Most Christmas times we would travel to Lake Malawi and meet up with another missionary family to celebrate and enjoy Christmas together. One thing we enjoyed the most was playing with our collective 5 boys in the lake, including snorkeling along a rocky point where there are a lot of cichlids.
Most years we would all swim along the shore 1/2mile and hang out a few hours at a particular peninsula, jumping off the rocks and snorkeling. This one time I was swimming ahead with one of the teenagers when some guys from the shore caught our attention. As we got closer we could hear them more yelling something, finally it became clear, they were yelling “Crocodiles!”. Now, let me explain: for years we had been coming to this particular spot and we had never seen crocodiles; even the locals said there were no crocodiles, never. As we continued down the shore the men became more agitated, continuing to strongly recommend we get out of the water. But we didn’t see any crocodiles. When we finally got out, walked along the shore and looked to where they were pointed, not 20 yards from shore, there he was, a small crocodile sunning itself on a rock—a rock we would have swam past in just a few minutes had we stayed in the water. Although that crocodile may have been small (6-7ft) it was probably not alone.
Needless to say we thanked the men who had so adamantly warned us of the impending danger and started our walk home. That Christmas we didn’t get out to that peninsula and each venture into the water was a tad apprehensive but with one focused lookout, closely paying attention to the water, we still had a lot of fun.
I remembered this story a few days ago in the middle of the night as I thought of the dangers we as men “fall into”. We seem to be taken by surprise when we are tempted to gamble or lust. We repeatedly say we are sorry, yet fail to recognize the signs, nor do we listen to the warnings that we are often, actually swimming in very dangerous waters.
The verse I think of is 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. The enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. But look further, it goes on to say, “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Peter didn’t say, ‘Be careful and go on to immediate victory’, nor did he say, ‘be careful and you can launch a full frontal attack on the devil’. What he said was, be very careful and even if you are attacked stand firm and don’t give up or give in, no matter how it may hurt or pain you.
Some days we just aren’t real aware are we; some days we are tired or things are going well and we think we are (temporarily) invincible. Let us be sober. Interesting the verse prior to 8 tells us to “cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for you (us).” The assumption is we all have anxiety and the devil, our enemy is just waiting to take advantage of our lack of attention when we worry. Before we even enter the fray let us speak with our Father, cast all our cares upon him—because he cares for us.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. -K