by Brian G. Bettes
Chicken carcasses lay everywhere. The smell of fresh death hung heavy in the air. Only six of our 38 chickens were left inside the coupe, huddled in a corner with obvious fear in their little eyes. The scene was heartbreaking.
Kristin and I had just arrived home from visiting with my cousin. As our custom is, we had let the chickens outside of their large chicken run to free range in the yard for a couple of hours before sundown. They love to come outside of their fenced-in yard to scratch and peck under the fallen leaves, foraging for all of the little “treasures” they can find.
Chickens are creatures of habit, and, as the sun goes down, they will find their way back into the chicken house to roost. Typically, one of us will go out just before it becomes dark and close the chicken yard, then close up the coupe as well to make sure our flock is safe and sound for the night. On this occasion, we were talking with my cousin, forgot that the chicken yard and house was open and we arrived home about an hour after dark. That was all it took.
A marauder, we think a raccoon, had entered the chicken house, killed two and severely mauled several others inside, then gone on a killing spree outside, killing more in the yard and scattering our flock. After a search the next morning, eight carcasses were found, including our best rooster, and over the next couple of days we would lose a total of 14, either killed outright, or from resultant injuries of the attack.
Our hearts sank as we realized we had let our little flock down. We were not there to put them away and protect them as we should have been. Our carelessness had caused both our chickens, and us, to pay a deep price. It may sound silly, but, in a very small way we felt a bit like Job. Though Job clearly lost much more than we did, losing children, plus all his herds and flocks, Job had much to lose. Our little flock of chickens that we raised from day-old chicks is all we have, so this was devastating for us. Yes, I realize the comparison is a bit unrealistic, but still, for us it hurt!
The woods and thick underbrush on our property are full of predators. Bobcats, weasels, raccoons, skunks, hawks, and a host of other chicken eating vermin. The Bible tells us we are to be constantly aware of the fact that our adversary, the predator of God’s people, is always lurking in the underbrush of life, waiting to catch us off guard (1 Peter 5:8). It is his sole purpose to perceive when we are at our lowest, weakest, and most vulnerable points in life, and then pounce.
Like the marauder that attacked our chickens, Satan wants to tear us apart and leave us for dead. We are not only to be vigilant, but we are to actively be facing and resisting his ever present, persistent advances on us through living faith (1 Peter 5:9; Romans 1:17). God’s faith living in us is our lifeline (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and our Father are not careless managers of Their flock like we were. We can trust their care, their protection, and their desire to keep us safe. But unlike helpless chickens or sheep, we were made in Their image, and we were given something that no other creature on earth was given—the power of intellect (Romans 8:16). We were given the ability to think, solve problems, and create on a limited level, in a similar fashion as our Father and Brother. As such, much more is expected of us than unsuspecting chickens or sheep. We have to take personal responsibility for our spiritual safety and our salvation (Philippians 2:12).
Don’t get me wrong. Our adversary, Satan the devil, is much more powerful, smarter, and by far more cunning than we are (Genesis 3:1). This was proven the in the Garden of Eden. Since he is the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), constantly broadcasting his insidious “signal” of evil and darkness, if we are without the power of the Holy Spirit and protection of our Father through Jesus our Lord and Savior, we don’t stand a chance against him.
Our Father holds us accountable for being aware of our enemy’s ploys, his tricks, his traps, his “haunts” where he lurks, and the ways he can get to us. It is our responsibility to study His Word, pray fervently, meditate on that Word, fast regularly to draw close to Him, and fellowship with like-minded brethren who can bolster us up and strengthen us, iron sharpening iron. We must work to put on the armor of God and have His protection. This is not a game to God, and it should not be a game to us.
This requires real effort on our part. We cannot just be lazy and sit in front of the television, or watch movies every night and let Satan broadcast to us “right through the front door,” so to speak (Matthew 6:22-23). What we allow to enter our minds through our eyes is critical to our salvation! Do we watch (and actually enjoy) movies that are filled violence, blood, gore, death, “zombies,” sex, adultery, lying, cheating, crude humor, or even witchcraft? We have all done it, haven’t we?
In an effort to “veg-out” after the long, exhausting day at work, do we watch mind-numbing TV programming every night that automatically focuses our mental brainwaves on the world and its ways? It is easy, isn’t it? There is no thinking involved, which is exactly where our adversary wants us! If all we feed our minds is garbage, how do we think we will produce righteousness? As the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
Through the apostle James, God makes us an iron-clad promise. He says that if we submit ourselves to Him, and we resist the devil, that he (the devil) will flee from us (James 4:7). But we must be willing resist by submitting ourselves to God for the promise to stand. So, the question is, are we willing to make the extra effort to fill our minds at night with the Word of God so it can light our path (Psalm 119:105)? Studies show that, what we put into our minds at night just before we go to bed is vital to having a healthy, safe mental environment to protect our overactive minds from those dark, evil, or bad dreams that lead to restlessness.
The words in 1 Peter 5:8, sober and vigilant, mean “to abstain from wine” (or more to the point, be clear-minded) and “keep awake and be continuously watchful,” respectively. This is the responsibility given to us. That is what God expects of us. If we do that, then we will be protected and be able to stand against the wiles of our adversary, the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
A lion roars to create fear. He senses the fear reciprocated by his roar, telling him when and where to go in for the kill. That is why it says he is a roaring lion. As a predator, he is searching for fear. Fear in prey is an advantage to him and it leads him to know which prey to pounce upon…the weak, the young, the old, all of whom will project fear. He senses the fear, and then goes into “steal mode” to attack. Satan constantly broadcasts his signal to see where there is vulnerability so he knows where to pounce.
We do not need to be afraid of his roar if we are sober and vigilant as instructed. If we are resisting him steadfastly, showing God’s power in us and resisting him because we are wearing the armor of God, he will take his roaring fear tactics elsewhere. He will search for easier prey. Let’s not become the prey of our enemy the adversary. Let’s be ever clear-minded, keep awake, and be continuously watchful!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).