Last week I witnessed a violent attack in the Olde Town section of Conyers. It was surprising to see this life-and-death struggle taking place in broad daylight on Main Street right in front of the courthouse.
No, it wasn’t one of those criminal acts which seems all too often to get this once sleepy little community in the news.
As I was driving along, a short distance ahead of me a hawk suddenly came swooping low across the road. It seemed to be struggling to fly, flopping its wings in an odd fashion, until it actually plopped down in the middle of Main Street. Then I saw the problem.
In its sharp talons, it was trying to carry off a pigeon — one that was almost as big as the hawk itself. As my vehicle approached the feuding fowls, the hawk flew off empty-handed. It all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to stop and was afraid I was running over the pigeon. But apparently it managed to escape in the opposite direction.
I realize that such acts in nature occur all the time. That’s what hawks do. But rarely do I get to witness one. And I certainly didn’t expect to see it play out on a busy street between a line of stores and the county courthouse.
The Bible reminds us that we have an adversary who is preying on our souls. He’s not described as a hawk, but rather as a lion. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).
There are times when we almost expect the devil to show up with his arsenal of deceptions, lies and temptations.
For example, when we find ourselves traveling through one of the wildernesses or valleys of life, we can usually count on our adversary trying to take advantage of our weakened state with attempts to discourage us, to lead us off the right path, or to get us to doubt God.
But one of the reasons we have to “be vigilant,” as that Scripture indicates, is because the devil will also attack us at unexpected moments or in surprising places. When we’ve just experienced some great event or victory in our lives and we’re celebrating on the mountaintop, we need to be watchful for Satan to show up.
He may tempt us on such occasions with the pride of thinking too highly of ourselves or with the idea that we’re capable in ourselves and don’t need God as much anymore. While traveling the smooth and easy paths of life, he may attack us in such areas as becoming complacent, lazy or losing our passion.
And the predator of our souls doesn’t just show up at wild parties or on dark street corners at midnight. He may swoop down into our thoughts and hearts as we’re sitting in church, or trying to pray, or seeking to give counsel to someone who is hurting.
We shouldn’t be surprised when the devil shows up, because that’s what he does. Just like that hawk hunting for prey, he is looking for souls to tempt and destroy.
Thankfully the Bible tells us that we can resist him through the power of Christ. We don’t have to be carried off by his temptations and deceptions. There is always a way to escape his clutches, if we’ll look for it.
So don’t let down your guard. You never know when or where the devil might show up. Don’t let yourself be one of the pigeons he carries away.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.