Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Whose Footprints?

My bird feeders have been emptying much quicker these days--either the birds are very hungry (could be, it's still quite cold and windy in these mountains) or something else is afoot.  I have no way to tell...I fill the feeders, and a day or so later, I see a lot of seed on the ground and the feeders are near to empty.  

Then, some evidence appeared in an unlikely freshly fallen snow.  Footprints.  And not wee birdie prints...but rather large, imposing prints.  Hmmm...who could be sneaking around, knocking the feeders about and emptying them all too quickly?  You guessed it.  I had no condemning evidence a while back, then ta-da!  deer footprints.  
So, what to do?  Well, in a wintry world of little forage and very cold evenings, I really can't blame the deer for wanting to muscle in on the feeders and grab some seed.  Yet, if the deer become too dependent on forage provided by us humans, they grow less inclined to forage in the wild and teach their young, thereby endangering their survival.  Do I keep refilling the feeders and thereby keep refilling the deers' stomachs?  Or do I allow the birds to pick up what is on the ground and let the feeders stay empty for awhile?

We live in a world where we see Satan at work.  We see his footprints in the snow, coming in and taking away what is not his:  our health, our loved ones, our peace of mind.  Sometimes the snow melts and although we can't see his footprints, he leaves condemning evidence of his work behind:  cold hearts made so by the deceitfulness of sin, anger and heartache, violence and loss.  We rail against his emptying of the feeders, yet sadly, because our world doesn't take Satan seriously, many people are shocked when terrible things happen.  We are saddened too, but not surprised.  Having tried to defy God, and losing his place in heaven, Satan works on His children, as a way to take revenge on God.  Most parents would rather have someone hurt them than their children, if evil people are willing to make such bargains.  If you hurt me, the pain is temporary; hurt my children and the pain will go on forever.

God chose to have His Son tortured by Satan's minions--He loves us that much.  Because Jesus is God in the flesh, God was, in effect, allowing Himself to be killed for sin rather than us.  God is the ultimate Parent, the One Who never leaves nor forsakes us, even if Satan is dishing out as much pain and suffering as he can muster.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus is the "Lion of Judah" (Revelation 5:5) and Satan is also compared to a lion: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).  Sometimes we are so angered and devastated by Satan's work in the world, we lose sight of God's more powerful work in the world.  We see sin and destruction, but neglect to see how lovingly God is working on the hearts of people to draw them to Himself:  "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32).  Notice where His love will draw us?  At His death on the cross.  That is the ultimate judgment against Satan:  death itself has been overwhelmed by the love of His Son.  So, how do we respond to what is going on in the world?  Look at this picture:

I see a lion's paw:  a powerful cloud, rolling across the mountains, with thunder, lightning and hail in its wake.  I can be afraid, and see this as evil afoot or I can see the Lion of Judah's paw, firmly over the earth, in majesty and power and still in control of His wayward planet.  Yes, evil is everywhere, and never would I ascribe the evil to God, but it's our point of view that needs adjusting every now and then.  

Remember this verse:  "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them [those who deny Jesus and do evil], because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:3).  Even if you see Satan's footprints in the snow, look a little closer:  Jesus' footprints are right behind them.

Prayer:  Dearest Father:  Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by personal sadness or by what I see going on in the world, that I forget the majesty of Who You are.  Satan would love me to shrink You down to the size of my problem.  But please remind me of the greater horizons of Your Love and how, despite the evil that stalks the land, You are still mighty and You still reign.  In the Son Who made such love possible, amen.

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