“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 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.” 1 Peter 5:7-9
There is a scene in the classic Walt Disney animated movie Bambi where a hunter is closing in on a few pheasants. The birds scurry to a field to hide in the deep grass. The hunter gets closer and panic begins to set in on one hen. Instead of fear paralyzing the little cartoon creature, is agitates and makes it a slave to chaos. The other birds try to comfort this frantic bird with common sense encouragement from experiences past, but this one frightened bird just cannot take the pressure. The terrified pheasant has watched way too much CNN and Fox News. Instead of being calm and quiet, this bird takes flight ignoring the sound instructions of her wiser friends. The next thing you hear is the shotgun followed by the bird falling with a thud to the ground. Remember this.
With all the negative and uncertainty, we are dealing with on a daily basis, what are we as the Church to do in these times where joy could be hard to find and experience? Many are like this frightened little bird losing faith and hope as emotions are carried away with the wave of doom and gloom. I believe Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 gives us the answer. (Take some time to read these verses and the previous devotion.) Over the next few weeks, we will break down five things Paul instructs the Church to do especially in times of trials. A quick review... Wake Up, Stand Up, Grow Up, Power Up and Love! Today we look at the first two that instruct us to be alert and to be ready to stand strong in faith.
I like the way Peter writes these three verses that we are looking at today. Verse 7 is the key for being alert and strong. Anxiety is a killer. How? Because it is a huge distraction! Think about the bird! When you are worried about something to the point that it is consuming your thoughts and quite possibly your day, then you are for sure being set up for the short flight followed by the thud. When you look at what our nation is going through with the virus and constitutional chaos, the news is getting very rich off worry. The media is no longer a news dissemination machine. That ended a long time ago. It has been replaced by fear peddling false prophets as some have said. When fear is proclaimed, it produces in us protective, yet curious and dangerous characteristics. If worry is unchecked, what we see and hear produces fear. Fear then causes us to take actions to make sure we are ok. If the bird would have listened to her friends who were calm and in control of their emotions, then parents would not have had to counsel their small children while leaving the movie theater. (I actually read that this scene led to a warning for parents with small children.)
Lets get back to 1 Peter 5. In these verses, Peter tells us to not get caught up in the emotional hype of the moment we are experiencing. Remember that God cares and is dedicated to taking care of you. He is your defense and anchor that will hold you through the storm. Knowing this, Peter instructs us to take all of the worry and throw it on God’s shoulders. The stuff that bothers you does not bother Him. When we get rid of the worry, we are then able to be alert to what God is doing and to what the enemy is trying to do.
Peter tells us to be alert or sober mind. This means to be calm and collected in spirit. When the lion of chaos is circling around you roaring at the top of his lungs, God tells us to be calm. Don’t be the worried bird. One of the greatest lines in this scene in Bambi is when one of the calm birds gives life saving advice. The bird says, “Don’t get excited.” Then after this bird doesn’t listen and suggest to take flight, the calm bird warns, “Whatever you do, don’t fly.” Someone reading this today needed that last line. You are panicking and the lion is roaring. You feel the hot breath down your neck, and you think that the best thing to do is to take flight. Running away from your responsibility is only going to end bad for you. Remember the thud.
What our nation needs now is for the Church to be calm and stand firm in our faith, not our emotions. We cannot allow the news cycles or the COVID numbers to dictate our joy. Yes, it may look bad, it may feel bad, but that does not mean that it will end up bad. Resist the enemy who is trying to put you into a fatal flight by standing in your faith. Remember Hebrews 11:1. Faith is not what we see or experience. It is what we confidently hope for in God’s word. Be the “Merry” in Merry Christmas this year. Be the hope that brings life. Be the joy that comes against the scrooges of the doomsday rhetoric.
I end with this, instead of being isolated due to COVID, make sure you are connecting somehow, someway with other believers. When anxiety hits your door, the enemy would like to isolate you from believers who God wants to use to encourage you. They may be going through similar situations or have in the past. We need each other! When we are alert and standing in the faith, we are like the calm birds who had the experience of lions on the hunt before. We can help others stay focused and channel their fear into faith in God’s Word. Be the wise bird that stays alert and still in your faith.