A few weeks ago I was listening to a program on NPR and heard part of an essay about an encounter with a mountain lion being read by Craig Childs, a desert dwelling naturalist from Arizona who’s written a book on his encounters with animals-. The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. As I looked it up on the internet, I found the original account of his experience, written in the July 24, 2006 issue of High Country News. Read it here: https://www.hcn.org/issues/326/16437 “Prey at the waterhole”
Childs gives us a gripping first hand report of facing a predatory lion face to face. Like most big cats, the mountain lion prefers to catch its prey unaware. It will strike for the neck, preferably from the rear. His defensive strategy, when he found himself stalked at a waterhole, was to keep his eyes on the lion, shoulders squared to the animal, never allowing it even a glance behind him as the lion circled him, coming ever closer. “This went on for minutes, hours, days. My entire life. Then it let go of me. The lion turned and moved away. I don’t know why. I wasn’t the right shape. I didn’t run, giving it my back, as it expects of prey overtaken by fear.”
I had thought about Childs’ account several times over the last few weeks. Then, Thursday night as our women’s sharing group at Celebrate Recovery! was talking about “actions”, we got around to talking about our actions in the face of the devil’s attacks. I told them this story from Childs’ encounter and we discussed it as a metaphor for our response to attacks.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 2 Timothy 4:17 says, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…..and I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.” Peter was giving us a graphic comparison of how the devil stalks us and Paul is giving an account of how he was strengthened and protected in proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.
We agreed that we need to know the devil’s tactics, stay alert, not give in to fear, but rather stand our ground, claiming the power and authority that we have in Christ to back him down. Our “posture” in encounters with the devil is important. We need to face him square, stand tall, and never give ground. We have to be very confident of our identity in Christ and His power available to us to do that. James 4:7 tells us “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Childs’ encounter was rare and unexpected, but he was prepared with knowledge of his enemy and self control. We can be sure that we will face confrontation with the devil if we are striving to serve the Lord. Preparation for what is an inevitable encounter is the key.