Since making our move to Florida just over a year-and-a-half ago, many of our friends and family have not neglected to send us numerous social media posts and stories about the perils of living in Florida.
These dangers include living in the path of hurricane-level storms, or encountering the antics of people who drive their golf carts in a very creative variety of insane ways.
One of my cousins was getting married in Jacksonville, Florida. His bride was a native of Jacksonville, and he was planning to attend graduate school and live the rest of his life in Tennessee.
One of the discussions they shared with me was that she was terrified to make a permanent move “that far north, and would prefer living in Florida, if at all possible.”
He countered with the fact that he could never imagine living down in the state of Florida, simply because of all the hurricanes that passed through.
When she heard that, the bride guffawed with laughter. “Hurricanes?” she said, “hurricanes, shmurricanes! There’s no danger there. I’ve lived through plenty of them!”
But then she went on to share her reasons for not wanting to move to Tennessee. She had a dreaded fear of snow! My cousin laughingly responded, “Snow, shmow! You just shovel it out of the way and go on!”
They settled in Nashville!
Golf cart safety is another area of concern. As I watch the videos friends have sent, I am amazed that people can drive those carts in such crazy ways! But then I also realize that much of those antics are alcohol-induced, or at least -influenced!
But there is another danger in this area which we have heard about: Dealing with alligators!
One video which was sent to me depicted a man attempting to retrieve a golf ball which had apparently come to rest squarely on the back of a fairly large gator.
This fellow was doing everything he could to get that ball. He first considered hitting the ball where it lay, but quickly changed his mind about that when he could not get a firm footing anywhere close to the ball! But he fully intended to retrieve that ball, and considered various things to do so.
Not wanting to get too close to the alligator, and apparently not having a ball retriever in his bag, he tried taking his longest club and knocking the ball clear, but failed to do anything but wake the gator up! He then took his golf towel and gently dropped it over the gator’s eyes, thinking he could get closer if the gator did not see him coming!
That just inspired the gator to whip his tail at the man and in doing so clipped the man’s legs out from under him in a vicious sort of way!
This fellow should have simply realized that the two-dollar golf ball was not worth it!
I was playing golf a few weeks ago with some fellows from our church, when something similar happened to us – well, not quite!
We were standing on the fourth green of this course, when one of the fellows in our group, looked at me and said, “Chuck, don’t look now, but turn around real slow.”
I took him seriously, and turned around very slowly. What I saw was an alligator, about 20 feet from snout to tail, ambling very slowly about 20 feet away! The gator was moving from one pond to another, and was paying no attention to us.
My first reaction was to slowly and quietly say, “Quick, somebody get a picture!” By the time any one of us could get our cameras out, the gator had settled into the high grass near the pond closest to us, but there did not appear nearly so large or intimidating!
But those types of “animal” stories are not unique to Florida.
A resident of northeast San Antonio found out the hard way that appearances can be misleading. After rescuing what appeared to be two abandoned kittens, Jane Dinscore, a passionate animal care activist, attempted to bring them home and nurse them back to health. Believing that they were Bengal kittens, she tried to give them milk.
So aggressively did the two kittens respond to the milk that they destroyed the feeding bottles she used to administer it. After enduring a few nasty scratches along the way, Dinscore realized her initial assessment was off, and contacted the local Animal Control Service.
It turns out the two kittens were bobcats from the wild. ACS spokesperson Lisa Norwood commended Dinscore’s motive, but does not recommend similar actions in the future.
“I think their hearts were in the right place, but we have to use our eyes and minds and make educated decisions,” Norwood said. “If you don’t know something, ask somebody. There are so many resources out there.”
My friends, first of all, I want to thank you for your warnings of the dangers of living here.
But may I suggest that each of these stories pinpoint an even greater danger for each and every one of us?
No matter where we are in our lives, “sin is crouching at the door, and its desire is for you” (Genesis 4:7). It always looks harmless at first glance. Danger lurks in unexpected places – and I am talking about more than storms, golf carts, and alligators!
Do not think you are immune, or that it will not burn you!
Even the Apostle Paul dealt with that all the time. He said “O wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?”
Then he immediately responded with, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25) He knew that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only thing that could deliver him from sin.
If a relationship with Christ was good enough for Paul, shouldn’t you think about it too?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.