Some time ago, it was reported that the Arizona Game and Fish Department began nursing more than 30 emaciated, dehydrated, banged-up pelicans that had been discovered and retrieved from Yuma to Phoenix, a distance of almost 200 miles.
Further research determined that the brown pelicans were injured when they descended from the sky, sailed low over sidewalks and asphalt highways, stretched out their feet as though to make a perfect splash landing in water, and then tumbled end over end when they instead hit the pavement.
The pelicans, apparently suffering a food shortage in California, flew to Arizona looking for fish. From the sky, the shimmering hot air over the black asphalt appeared to the pelicans like water. Down they flew for fish and a refreshing dip in a lake.
What they found instead was solid pavement, dehydration, hunger, and near death. Reality hits hard.
You know, what happened to those pelicans is a lot like what happened in that idyllic paradise known as Eden. The tern “Eden” means “delight,” and for Adam and Eve in those initial moments (maybe even hours or days, we are not told!), the expanse of that place was indeed a delight for them to enjoy.
Can you imagine? That first couple, in their sinless and perfect innocence, were just frolicking and enjoying the only “playground” they had ever known, when all of a sudden, what sounded like a simple and innocent-enough question led to a tremendously rough and disastrous landing, not only for them, but for all mankind as well.
In one sense anyway, they were blind-sided by the wiles of the serpent in the garden that day, and that one misstep proved fatal for all mankind.
Sometimes, when we can see the enemy, and identify the enemy, we are better prepared for the battle.
One of the difficulties in fighting wars in recent years, whether you are talking about Vietnam or Iraq or wherever is the difficulty in knowing who the enemy is. The young boy who helped you unload your truck this morning may be the very individual who booby-traps your tent tonight.
The same thing is true on the spiritual level.
Steve Green, who sang six years with Bill and Gloria Gaither, tells about getting to know some of the work crews in the large auditoriums where their concerts were held.
The Gaithers prefer concerts-in-the-round, which means extra work for the “riggers,” who walk the four-inch rafter beams — often a hundred feet above the concrete floor — to hang sound speakers and spotlights. For such work, understandably, they are very well paid.
“The fellows I talked to weren’t bothered by the sight of looking down a hundred feet,” says Green. “What they didn’t like, they said, were jobs in buildings that had false ceilings — acoustical tile slung just a couple of feet below the rafters. They were still high in the air, and if they slipped, their weight would smash right through the flimsy tile. But their minds seemed to play tricks on them, lulling them into carelessness.”
Satan’s business, whether we are talking about our first parents dwelling in the Garden of Eden, or our children (and yes, even us, too!) working through the routine of daily living, is not so much in scaring us to death as in persuading us that the danger of a spiritual fall is minimal. He makes that fruit look so enticing!
And his methods are simply to lull us to sleep.
He is not so concerned with our denying God as he is in simply delaying us in our obedience to God. He won’t ever say to us “Don’t obey God!” But time and again he says, “Do it tomorrow!” The enemy of our souls never says “God did not say…” as much as he asks, “Has God said…?”
He chooses to entice us to doubt God rather than to disobey Him or deny Him. And in all his tactics of deceit and deception, Satan is constantly stroking our egos, suggesting that God’s real motives are to keep us in the dark. He did that with Adam and Eve, and he will surely do that with you and me!
No wonder Peter advised us to “resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Satan is a powerful foe!
But, my friends, God is even more powerful, and more truthful, and more faithful and more dependable.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
I do not know what could have been done to prevent the plight of those parched pelicans that day in Arizona. But one thing I do know is that God’s design for you and me is our success in resisting Satan!
And He is just the resource we need to do it!
The next time you are tempted to give in to the wiles of the devil, remember God loves you, and sent Christ to deliver you, and to walk with you through the fiery trials!
All He asks of you is to trust Him!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.