August 9, 2010

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Perhaps you read the reports about how Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus at the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, host of television show Into the Wild, and frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, fended off a trio of grizzlies in Glacier National Park.

According to his account on The Early Show, Hanna, his wife and two others were on a hike when they encountered a mother bear and her two cubs. They backed up to give the animals room to pass, and made noise to ward off an attack. But one cub, weighing about 125 pounds, kept coming, so Hanna whipped out his ever-present can of bear spray—different from anti-personnel defense spray like mace—and gave the animal a faceful. All escaped unharmed.

Sadly, a few days later, further south in Montana, three people were attacked by a mama grizzly at a campground near Yellowstone National Park. One man died. The adult bear was eventually captured (and probably put down), while her three surviving, undernourished cubs were sent to a new home at ZooMontana in Billings.

Scary stuff!

But just so you don’t swear off hiking forever, Backpacker magazine notes, “Your odds of being attacked by a bear in Yellowstone are 1 in 3 million…And you have a better chance of being crushed by a vending machine anywhere than killed by a bear in Glacier.”

We all like to see animals in their natural habitat, in the wild. That’s part of the thrill of visiting our national parks. However good sense (and park rangers) tells us we need to keep our distance and take precautionary measures to avoid attracting them. And in the event they get too close for comfort, we should be prepared to defend ourselves.

The same is true in our own natural realm. It’s a spiritual jungle out there! “In the world you will have trouble,” Jesus says in John 16:33. Our adversary not only comes on like a loud lion, but also sneaks up like a cougar stealthily stalking his prey (Job 1:7). He can make sin look as innocent and fun as the cutest little animal (2 Corinthians 11:14)—until it turns on us without warning. And like a fascinating but deadly snake, once sin insinuates itself into our lives it wreaks havoc (Genesis 3).

Maybe you’ll never come within heart-pounding distance of a bear, but no one escapes the influence of “the rulers…the authorities…the powers of this dark world [and] the spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12).

“But take heart!” Jesus encourages us in John 16:33. “I have overcome the world.”

Thank You, Lord!

So take a tip from Jack Hanna about how to protect yourself against wild animals, but more importantly, study Scripture to prepare for encounters with the enemy of your soul. Know his schemes (2 Corinthians 3:11), be on guard (2 Peter 3:17, 1 Corinthians 10:12), avail yourself of the power God gives you to thwart his attacks (2 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Ephesians 6:10-18, Hebrews 4:16), then stand firm and resist  (1 Peter 5:9, James 4:7).

God’s got your back.


  1. Susan Panzica says:

    Great post! I’m going to share it with my friend who is close friends with Jack Hanna. It’s a great analogy. Some people are so fearful of the “roaring lion” they forget that he is a defeated foe. Of course, a lion with his teeth knocked is out still a powerful adversary, so as you said, we must take precautions.

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