The other day I was thumbing through Facebook and someone had posted a video of a cage with 6 or so lions prowling around inside surrounded by families with their kids eating popcorn, clearly there to see a show at the circus. Inside the cage with the lions there were 2 lion wranglers wielding whips and a guy on the outside who had a high-powered hose at his disposal. One of the large lions was clearly annoyed with his handlers and pinned one of them on the ground with what I’m sure was not a playful hug, but looked like an attempt on the guy’s life. The other handler whipped and the man outside hosed and the lion backed off, but the lions continued to prowl around the cage and over and over again pounced on the two wranglers.
Watching this clip I could barely breathe.
The lion’s big paws, powerful bodies, and large jaws filled me with fear
for the wrangler’s lives as they swatted at the lions with their whips
as if they were dinky little house flies.
I imagined Daniel in the Old Testament being dropped down into a pit
with hungry lions and how terrifying that must have been.
I thought about the Christians who were martyred during the Roman Empire
by being thrown to lions and wild beasts. What a merciless death they were sent to!
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:6-8
Peter, who was crucified in Rome during Emperor Nero’s reign, knew very well how a prowling, roaring lion could devour someone. By comparing the devil to a roaring lion, Peter is trying to sober us up. He’s crying, “Wake up people! The devil is no dinky house fly to swat at from time to time!”
Is it no wonder that Peter is the one to call us awake to the gravity of spiritual forces? Peter denied Christ three times, deceived by Satan into obeying fear. He knew first hand how our adversary could pounce on us and attempt to kill us spiritually.
So he calls us awake, alert, at attention, aware of our surroundings, and to be sober spirited.
Confession: I’m not very good at being on the alert about spiritual things.
I get caught up thinking, planning, or worrying over a zillion different things throughout my day. A second ago, I made a list of things that are heavy on mind and it’s looooong. If I don’t start my day with Peter’s words ringing in my ears, my list can easily grab my attention and I forget all about the spiritual war going on.
But Peter knew this! Aha! I’m not crazy!
Before he turns the lights on and pours water over our heads to wake us up, Peter says in the previous sentence , “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” He knows that if we’re anxious and absorbed in everyday things, we can’t have the bandwidth to be aware of our enemy. He tells us to cast our anxieties on God and off of our own minds and hearts.
He tells us that we can trust our Chief Shepherd to take care of our anxieties, “BECAUSE He cares for you.”
But I’ve found that letting go of my anxieties is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Even with the assurance that God cares for me. Because truly I think that if I just mulled over my issues a little more, probed that hurt, or spent some more time thinking through that problem then I can fix it, figure it out, and put my mind at ease…
So there’s the root issue. Duh.
I trust myself more than I trust God with my anxieties.
That is so silly. Seriously.
Let’s be real, I lock my car keys on a regular basis inside my car, and I’ve been doing that for Y E A R S. And somehow I still think I’ve got a better handle on fixing my problems than God. ahahahaha
Peter knows that giving our anxieties to God is a heart issue, that’s why at the beginning of verse 6 he commands us to humble ourselves under the mighty (what? MIGHTY) hand of God. He tells us to get a better grip on our frailty. He reminds us that humility towards God is knowing our shortcomings, failings and limits and at the same time knowing His power, might, and limitlessness.
Maybe this is when I should queue Frozen’s delightful “Let it go!” that I’ve seen so many 5 year olds singing arms open on playgrounds???
That might have become my mantra for today,
but regardless let’s step in this together.
Let’s cast off our anxieties into the mighty hands of God,
to be able to be on the alert about the spiritual war that really is waging around us.