Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Years ago I had a dear friend pass away of a heart attack when he was on vacation at Disney World with his family. At the time I thought this shouldn't be. A family shouldn't have to go from a joy-filled holiday to a period of black mourning.
That same thought came back a few weeks ago when a gator dragged off a two-year-old boy who was wading in the shallow water of a Disney lagoon. But this time, if you can measure the depth of such a tragedy, the pain was even worse. This time a father and mother saw it happen. This time they got involved in a tug-of-war with the beast: a tug-of-war which they lost. It is impossible for anyone to guess the number of times that family will relive those moments and ask, "What could I have done differently?"
Most of you remember how, in the days which followed, the press tried to assign blame. Were there enough signs and were those signs accurate? "Surely," people wanted to know, "someone must be at fault for this tragedy to have taken place."
Me, I have a tough time ascribing guilt. The alligator did what alligators have done for thousands of years. The little boy wading in the water was doing what little boys have done since Cain first found a puddle. The only thing different is this: the boy's parents had no idea the lagoon contained alligators. If they had, they would have acted much, much differently.
Responding to the parents and their not knowing, one Floridian said, "We who live here always assume if you have water, you have alligators." To that comment one out-of-state-visitor replied, "I'm from the Midwest. We don't have alligators there. How would we know?"
The answer to that sad question is simple: "You should know because someone should tell you."
St. Peter tried to tell the people of his day that Satan was a roaring lion, looking to devour souls. In light of a few weeks ago, I would paraphrase his words to read, "Like an alligator, your adversary-- the devil -- lies hidden and waiting, looking for someone to devour."
Let's take that thought one step further, shall we? If every Floridian believes that if you have water, you also have waiting gators, we Christians ought to believe that every day God gives us has spiritual alligators waiting to grab us, get us, and carry us away.
A few weeks ago a tragedy might have been averted if someone who knows about alligators had come up to that family and said, "Folks, this lagoon is a dangerous place. You might want to be careful where your son is wading."
So, too, countless spiritual tragedies may be avoided if believers give a loving warning to those who simply don't understand the dangers of the devil and this evil world. We might want to say, "The world is a dangerous place. Look to the Lord who wants to keep you safe; look to Jesus who can save you from your sins when everyone else is helpless; look to the Holy Spirit who has the ability to keep a person firm in the faith He can give."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are many in this world who have chosen to ignore the warnings of Scripture, but there are many others who are ignorant of Your laws and Your love. Bless us as we witness to the work of the Redeemer and how His forgiveness will keep us safe in this world and the next. In Jesus' Name I pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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