Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Lion

“He (the Dark Power) has many more useful servants, but he won’t forget you...” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

A number of years ago I was sitting in a barbershop with a group of men, waiting our turn.  The conversation soon turned to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities as it often does here in Idaho.

One of the men (actually the barber) mentioned that he had been fishing the South Fork of the Boise River a few evenings before, and while resting on the tailgate of his truck observed a large male cougar making its way down a draw on the other side of the canyon. The man was downwind, sitting very still and the cat never saw him. The cougar walked to the stream, drank its fill, then bounded up the draw and out of sight. “Biggest mountain lion I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

As it happened, a friend of mine and I fished the South Fork a week or so later and found our selves in the same place at the same time of day.  We fished until it was dusk and my friend, who was in a hurry to get home, quickly pulled off his waders and other gear and began to hike out of the canyon thinking I was behind him. By the time I started to hike out he was long gone. It was dark and I had to break out my headlamp to see the trail. 

Then I remembered the barber’s tale and got that prickly feeling you get in the back of your neck when someone (or something) is watching you. I doubled my pace and scrambled up the trail, nervously peering into every dark cranny and rocky crevice, my head swiveling like Linda Blair’s head in The Exorcist, thinking every moment that I was not long for this world.

Obviously, I beat death and destruction, as they say, and got back to the truck safely, but I’ll not forget the anxieties of that hour.

My fear was jiustified because I knew there was a large cat in the area, but there is a better knowledge we should take with us every hour: Our adversary the devil is stalking us night and day, hungry for our souls (1 Peter 5:8). He is always dangerous, but he is never more dangerous than when we think we have outlived him. 

No, he stalks us every moment of every hour, intent on blighting our final years, eager to draw us into the passions of old age—not the passions of the flesh perhaps (though I would put nothing past us), but of the spirit—intolerance, irritability, and impatience. A bitter, bad-tempered old man or woman is one of his crowning achievements.

So we should never think we’re too spiritual, too accomplished, or too old to escape his notice. As old Lewis Bayly put it, “We are never out of gunshot of the devil.” (I think of Union General, John Sedgwick, who sat upright on his horse in full view of Confederate snipers over a thousand yards away because, he said, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dis.....”) Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).

We must never let up, for our adversary does not. This must be our passion: to pursue God and his righteousness with hearty energy and abandonment every hour of every day for as many days as he gives us. For...

He who would be born again indeed,
Must wake his soul unnumbered times a day,
And urge himself to life with holy greed;
Submissive and ready to the making will,
Athirst and empty, for God’s breath to fill.

—George MacDonald


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