When we moved to the countryside a few years ago, we discovered our backyard was a deer run. A dense patch of woods was the perfect home for deer, as well as foxes, coyotes, raccoons and even mink! After settling into our home, a family pastime became Spot The Wildlife. It went a little like this.
“Mom, there’s a deer in the backyard! Wait, no, there are two, three, four, wait, six deer!
Quickly, the whole family would run to the windows and stare at the deer. And, you know what those deer would do in return? Of course, they would stare back at us. I’m sure we’re all familiar with how deer respond when they’re spotted; that’s where we get the phrase “She looked like a deer in the headlights”. When deer are frightened, they freeze. It can be funny to see who will win the staring contest first-the deer or us-but we stand and stare until the deer finally run back into the woods. We then have to wait until the next episode of Spot The Wildlife.
One time, though, in the middle of the afternoon, I retrieved my mail only to turn around and see a coyote running in my backyard. He didn’t freeze when he spotted me, but instead, quickly ran away. I was personally thankful there was no staring contest with him that day, but the difference between the deer and the coyote struck me. When one animal was faced with danger, he fled; the other froze.
Danger? What Danger?
Whether our response is to freeze or flee when facing a dangerous situation, the first question we must ask ourselves is do we know the danger? What is most dangerous to us? Some may find living in a sketchy neighborhood their greatest danger; others may think eating non-organic is alarming; and many have considered a virus the greatest threat of our time. Ultimately we think these kinds of dangers could lead to our death. Do we live this life fearing our death? Is death our greatest danger?
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28
Turn and Flee!
Death is not our greatest danger. While we may legitimately fear death, if we profess Christ, we must believe all sorts of truths that conquer this fear. Some of those truths include: Christ defeated death! Because of this victory, we will live again, forever with Christ, after this body perishes. Eternal life with God far outweighs even the best things of this earth. Should we suffer, God is with us, He is near us, and He will sustain us to the very end.
Believer, flee from the fear of death. When we fear death, we permit Satan to bind us tighter with his chains. We give him power that he does not rightly possess. We focus on ourselves and the what-ifs when the real danger is elsewhere. If you are struggling with trusting God, consider what is causing your fear and disbelief, then turn from those things and flee like that coyote in my backyard.
Did I mention danger elsewhere? If death isn’t our greatest danger, then what is?
Sin is what separates us from a holy God. Sin is what prevents us from having a right relationship with our Friend, Jesus. Sin is what causes hard hearts and dark minds, leading to all sorts of wickedness. If we don’t see sin as our greatest enemy then we will ignore it, excuse it, coddle it, defend it.
As the deer in our backyard stood frozen when they saw us, they needed to determine if we were their enemy. Once they determined we were, they fled into the woods. Could we learn a lesson from them? Do we know our enemy? Do we fear our greatest danger? Do we stop when temptations arise and sin is crouching at the door? Maybe if I froze the next time I am tempted to sin, it would give me time to stop, see my sinful heart, then turn away. Instead of falling headlong into my sin over and over again, freezing then fleeing would be the wiser solution. If I feared God more than I loved my sin, then I might obey Him and flee the danger of sin.
When Jesus knew He would soon die, He comforted His disciples with the news of the coming Holy Spirit. He assured His friends that the Spirit of truth would be a Helper as He dwelt in them. Jesus was not going to leave them all alone. This is true for us as well. God is with us. His Spirit enables us to fear God rightly, to acknowledge our sin, to freeze from acting upon it, then to flee from all unrighteousness. Praise God for sending us His Spirit!