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In the dark of the night

When I was a kid, folks in our rural neighborhood stuck together like glue when trouble presented itself. If the community was threatened, all the adults joined forces. I remember one occasion when word spread that some fellow was running about the country, turning over cars and outhouses. Since the populace didn’t take too kindly to having their outhouses tipped over, especially while occupied, a neighborhood watch was organized in hopes of detaining the man before someone was hurt.

My mother drove to a meeting one evening during the watch and, since my father was busy, she took my sister and me with her. It was dark by the time the meeting was over. Tired and sleepy, we girls clambered into the backseat of our old green Chevy. Mom drove home with one eye on the rearview mirror, since folks feared the fellow might attempt to steal a vehicle to escape getting caught. We weren’t far from home when Mom noticed a car following us. She watched the mirror for awhile, then calmly issued orders over her shoulder into the back seat.

“Girls,” she said. “Each of you grab two of those cans of oil on the floor back there. I don’t know who’s behind us, but he’s sure driving crazy. It just might be that fellow they’re looking for, so you guys be ready. If he stops us, you throw those cans at him!”

My heart pounded in my chest. I’m sure my sister’s did, too, but we complied. We slumped down in the seat and watched, bug-eyed, a can in each hand, as the car behind us roared past, pulled sideways some distance in front of us and blocked the narrow dirt road! Mom had no choice. She hit the brakes and brought the car to a standstill.

Raising our weapons, we gawked at the tall form that emerged from the offending car. It didn’t take us long to realize the perpetrator was a neighbor on patrol, and we breathed a sigh of relief. He approached our vehicle, eyeballing it warily. Mom rolled down her window to greet him, and he smiled, obviously relieved.

“You guys are lucky,” he said. “I thought you were our fugitive.”

We stopped shaking and lowered the oil cans. After a good laugh, we informed our neighbor he was lucky, too, because we were well armed!

I’ve thought about that incident often. It was disconcerting to know that danger prowled in the neighborhood. But it was also comforting to know folks were on watch and standing firm, ready to resist any peril that threatened the community.

There are times in our spiritual lives when circumstances or people threaten us. As demonstrated in the case of our drive in the dark, recognizing danger is an important step in protecting ourselves. The scripture reminds us that the devil prowls about looking for someone to devour. That small lie someone asks us to perpetuate, or accepting as “okay” a concept we know is wrong in God’s eyes, can easily be considered harmless. But Satan is on the prowl, and if we don’t recognize the enemy, we can be drawn deeper into his snare.

The Word also talks about resisting the enemy and standing firm in our faith (1 Peter 5:9). So how do we accomplish such a feat? Certainly not by ourselves.

The young shepherd David, in defeating the much larger and more experienced warrior Goliath, didn’t stand firm on his own power. He trusted in God’s power and promises, and so can we. We have easy access to the same strength and promises David experienced. Through our Lord Jesus Christ ––lover and Savior of our souls–– we are blessed with: a) the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to comfort and guide us, b) mercy and forgiveness when we fail, and c) peace, love, and joy in our lives as we submit to our loving God.

It’s easy to understand why folks find themselves wandering “in the dark of the night” of today’s confused culture. As we face the many temptations, challenges, and fears that bombard our daily lives, we’ll do well to heed Paul’s exhortation to the Hebrews in Chapter 12, verse 2 and “fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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