“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, Amplified)
It was a gorgeous day at Busch Gardens on May 12, 2002. The Tampa, FL, amusement park was alive with all that is associated with Spring. Colorful flowers. Warm sunshine. And the smiles on the faces of children everywhere.
Little did a 21 year old Busch Gardens employee know that her life was about to change forever.
The Associated Press article reported that she was giving her family a “behind the scenes” tour of the theme park. Details are sketchy, but apparently she had stopped to show off the park’s 350 pound male lion. All was fine until, a moment later, with lightning speed, the lion’s massive jaw clamped onto the young employee’s arm like a steel trap. Despite the screams of the girl and her family, the lion’s razor-sharp teeth had already severed her arm at the elbow. She was flown with the severed limb to Tampa General Hospital by helicopter where it was unclear if an attempt would be made to re-attach the arm.
What struck me about this story was not so much the ferocity of the lion as it was the surprise of the attack. Clearly, this young lady was not some inexperienced passerby who was visiting the zoo on a pretty Sunday afternoon. She was a trained zookeeper who, no doubt, took what she was thinking were proper precautions in dealing with a 350 pound wild animal. However, for a split-second she let her guard down. And that’s when the lion instinctively struck. She never saw it coming.
Our enemy, the devil, rarely approaches when we expect him to do so. He’s far too smart for that. He revels in the thought that we believers arrogantly believe we’ve got him figured out. The truth is he’s a demon of ancient origin, trained over millennia to center on both our weaknesses, and weak moments. And that’s when it happens. With lightning speed, he strikes. But, instead of losing an arm, we’re left with a lost reputation, shredded integrity, a severed relationship, or broken fellowship with God.
It’s when we’re most confident in ourselves (rather than in the presence and power of Christ) that we become easiest prey, which is precisely why Paul warned the Corinthians, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12, NASB)
So before you bound out of bed each morning and rush out the door ready for all life has for you, remember – satan has spent a great deal of time, perhaps years, waiting for your next unguarded moment. Abide in Jesus Christ, the One who “destroyed the works of the devil” by the Cross. If you don’t, make no mistake – the enemy will strike. And you’ll never see it coming.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick