Since coming to Ellel USA, I have learned a lot about alligators. I have watched the behaviour of different alligators who have migrated through the land, and I have learned to not be afraid of them, because I know what to look for and how to avoid a dangerous encounter with them. I was chatting with a friend recently who said she would be afraid to be around alligators, but sharks don’t phase her! I would be much more nervous about sharks.
And then it hit me. When we recognise the danger but know what to do, and what the warning signs are, we are not afraid. I know if an alligator is not acting afraid of people, then it is time to call the catcher to come and deal with it. My friend has the same kind of understanding about sharks. We can have the same attitude with cats or dogs. When we understand them, we know the warning signs and when to back away. People who work with a specific animal get that kind of knowledge about those animals. It does not mean the animals are not dangerous, rather that the people are trained to know how to take control over the animal and when to ask for help.
How does this apply to our spiritual lives? As our scripture for today says, the devil is like a mighty lion looking for someone to destroy. We don’t turn our back and ignore the lion, but we also don’t need to be afraid of him. Different versions translate the phrase at the beginning of verse 8 slightly differently: stay alert, watch out, be sober minded, be vigilant, be watchful, be always alert. I love reading it in different translations, because it really shows the emphasis. When I am near the pond, I am alert, watching for the alligators.
Verse 9 tells us to be strong in our faith and stand firm against the devil. We don’t need to be afraid. Stand against him! Alligators normally will float in the middle of the pond and watch us when we are there watching them. When we had one that was not afraid of people, it came toward us. It had been fed previously and was looking for a free handout. We walked away and called the catcher. It reminds me of when the enemy has a foothold in our lives, whether through our own sin or someone else’s sin, then he comes after us, and then it is time to get help to capture the enemy.
Do you have an alligator, shark, cat, dog, or lion tormenting you? Don’t be afraid. Stand firm in your faith but ask for help if you need it.
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