I nearly hit a deer last night. It was late and dark as I was driving home. This time of year, deer and all sorts of other critters are a commonplace sight up and down the blacktop road that leads to Safe Haven Farm. Growing up out here, learning to drive out here, you learn pretty quickly how to watch for motion on the sides of the road, even when it’s pitch black.
So when I saw a beautiful doe perched by the side of the road, I slowed down immediately. I wasn’t even going fast, so slowing down wasn’t a big deal. I was planning to stop because I just wasn’t sure what she was going to do. My attention was completely focused on her, and that’s why I didn’t see the second doe that dashed into my headlights from the other side of the road until it was almost too late.
WHAM! My foot on the brake brought my 2012 Malibu to a violent stop, the hood ducking toward the asphalt as my backpack up-ended onto the floorboard of the front seat. And the second doe pranced off into the darkness with her buddy.
I missed her. But just barely. It had to be by inches.
I was a bit shaken by the time I got home. Believe me, I practically crawled the rest of the distance down the asphalt to our old gravel road. I’ve seen deer on the road before, but that was the closest call I’ve ever had. And even though I had taken the precaution of going slow and paying attention, that silly second doe still got the jump on me.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Being alert in life takes time and focus and energy. A lot of all of it. Alertness isn’t just something that happens one day. You don’t just wake up one morning, and suddenly you’re alert. If you’re like me, when you wake up in the morning, you aren’t even coherent until after one cup of coffee.
In my experience, alertness comes after a surprise. If someone gets the better of you, that’s when you start looking out for trouble. Until it happens, you aren’t convinced it ever will happen to you.
You can prepare yourself and try to learn from other peoples’ experiences, but you don’t really know how to guard yourself until it happens to you.
Satan is a master at studying his enemies (that’s you and me, by the way). He has great skill at figuring out our weaknesses, and he never hesitates to use that knowledge against us. So we always need to be ready when he attacks. And he won’t always attack the same way. Maybe it’ll follow a similar pattern, but sometimes he’ll come from the right. Other times he’ll come from the left or from behind. Or he’ll distract you with something out in front of you while he sneaks up and thumps you on the back of the head.
So how do you handle him?
The number one thing to remember is that if you belong to Jesus, you’ve already won the war. God has given you the strength to stand up to Satan in Jesus’ name, so don’t ever be afraid of him. Yes, we need to recognize that he has power, and we should never try to take him on in our own strength. But Jesus is greater, and we have free access to His authority and power. So if you don’t have Jesus, you’d better find Him, or you won’t stand a chance.
The second thing? Don’t be surprised.
If you’re a Christ-follower, you’ve got an enemy, and he hates you. And he’s going to do everything he can to discourage you, distract you, stop you from doing what God has called you to do. Don’t be surprised when opposition comes. If it surprises you, you won’t be ready to fight back.
But you can prepare and do all of this and be as ready as you can, and Satan will still be able to surprise you. Sorry to say it, but it’s true. He will never quit trying to get you down, so you can never stop being ready to face him. That’s what being vigilant is. That’s what being alert means. And if he gets a hit in again, just learn from it and keep moving forward.
You aren’t alone. Every other Christ-follower in the entire world is going through the exact same struggle, and we all can relate. So don’t believe the lie that Satan tells you about being isolated or on your own. That’s nonsense. If you’re struggling, ask for help. You have more family than you know.