Summer is now in full swing and, as usual, there are plenty of warnings for those going outside or traveling. The usual tick and mosquito stories abound, but this year we also need to be concerned about being vaccinated for measles before going to summer camp. I’ve also already heard about several shark attacks at the beach. While my hometown of Pittsburgh has had recent bear and alligator warnings, I had my own alligator run-in while visiting my father-in-law in Charleston, SC, back in April.
Having decided that we’re not huge fans of transporting hard-sided kayaks on highways, we have purchased wonderful inflatable kayaks, which store in the back of the truck and are ready to launch in minutes. After the first day of delightful kayaking, the second day brought a calmly-worded statement by my husband, “Look, there’s an alligator.” So, there we are, paddling casually along the shore, in rubber inflatable kayaks, and Mark sees an alligator. Well, I can’t exactly say I saw much of the little fellow, since I turned quickly and headed for the center of the lake. He said there were flames flying from the back of my kayak, but he exaggerates!
Just this week, we received an article from my father-in-law stating that our lakeside friend is likely to be euthanized. It seems that people have been feeding him, and now he’s a little too fond of humans. Have you ever wondered what would make people think that feeding an alligator is a good idea?
This reminded me of the many warnings that we are given in Scripture regarding sin. As believers, we are aware of the sin that easily entangles, yet we often continue to feed it. Paul encourages us in Ephesians 4 to put off the old man and to put on the new, and in v. 27 he reminds us to give no opportunity to the devil.
Similarly, Peter exhorts us: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet James adds an encouraging note: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
What are the alligators lurking along the banks of your heart, smiling dangerously at you? That sin you know you shouldn’t feed, but you do? It has become fond of you, but you must put it to death. And be encouraged! Because God gives more grace, and if you draw near to him, he will draw near to you. If you humble yourself, he will lift you up (James 4:6, 8, 10). He is faithful and will provide a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). What a wonderful Father we have who helps us in our time of need!
So, as you head out this summer, don your bug spray, pack your measles vaccination record, and remember, “Don’t feed the alligators!”