Where the Wild Things Are

In mid-July, a poster appeared on one of the telephone poles in our neighborhood. It wasn’t a notice from a pet owner describing his lost dog or cat or an announcement about an upcoming garage sale. It was from the Department of Wildlife. It was serious. And it was official.
You have a couple of options when you see a sign like this. You can laugh and say, “They’ve got to be crazy. I’ll never run into one of those.” Or you can say, “I’d better be careful. This is for real.”
We’ve chosen the second response. We live in what seems like a regular residential area. But it’s close to the mountains of Colorado Springs and it does abut the vast acreage of the Air Force Academy. And because of its proximity to “the wild,” we have seen all kinds of animals: chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, rabbits, field mice, deer, birds and a snake or two. I’ve also had a bear in my garage and, last fall on a Sunday morning, one greeted me as I headed for church. He was standing against the house when I opened the door. And our son, Jon, while driving recently, saw the mountain lion described in the poster.
We know we live where the wild things are. We’re going to be on alert.
All these animals we’ve encountered have some characteristics in common. None of them are tame, none are trained and some of them can be dangerous. So the Wildlife folks were just doing their job when they posted a warning for us to be vigilant and careful.
A warning for all
The Lord has alerted us as well. And, like the notice in our neighborhood, His Word is serious and official.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 
— 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)
There may not be any bears or mountain lions in the neighborhoods of everyone reading this article, but there is a lion on the loose who seeks to devour each of us wherever we live. That beast is the devil and he wants to make our lives a mess. And we have two options. We can scoff and ignore the fact of God’s Word. Or we can take it seriously — there is really someone out to get us.
In this passage from 1 Peter, our loving, heavenly Father not only tells us about the reality of this adversary but He also tells us what to do. Resist him and stand firm in the faith.
When our kids were in elementary school and we had just moved to Colorado, the teacher handed out a pamphlet on “Living with Wildlife.” Particular attention was drawn to the section on what to do if you came close to a bear and what to do if you met a mountain lion. In each case, it’s different. If I remember correctly (and don’t get near either until you know for sure) with the mountain lion, you are to make yourself look as big as you can. Stand tall and don’t run. With the bear, avoid making eye contact and slowly back away. Knowing what to do is important. Remembering what to do is even more crucial!
Standing firm
With Devil Lion, we are to resist him by standing firm in the faith. What does that mean? I believe it means that we hold tightly to the truths of God’s Word. We know what the Bible says, and we cling to those truths and those promises. The Bible says that the Evil One has come to steal, kill and destroy. We know that he is the father of all lies. So when this lion comes at us with his lies to disrupt and destroy, we stand firm with the armor of God on us. We remind ourselves of our relationship with Christ — that His love will never leave us. We meditate on the fact that it is Jesus who gives us abundant and eternal life and not the one masquerading as a lion. We think about the fact that He who is in us (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the one who stands outside trying to steal the joy we’ve experienced in Christ. Standing firm in the faith means we band together with brothers and sisters in the bond of fellowship and resist the one who is so good at picking off the straggler, the one who walks alone.
But I’d like all of us not only to stand firm for ourselves. I’d like us to also stand firm for those on the Young Life team who are attempting to make a difference in a hostile environment. As the new school year moves into maximum mode, our staff, volunteers and kids are going to be confronted by the deception of the Evil One and his direct and subtle attacks. Please pray for our staff, volunteers and kids who are facing these spiritual battles. 1 Peter 5:9 reminds us “… because you know that your brothers [and sisters] throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” So pray for the mission of Young Life. If you’re close to a leader, befriend him or her, and help that leader resist the devil by standing firm in the faith just as you are going to do. Remember: