On Monday, Leah and I took the kids to the Woodland Park Zoo. I hold many fond memories of this place from my childhood growing up in Ballard. My favorite attraction was the nocturnal house, where everything was shrouded in darkness and stillness. As soon as I set foot in the entrance, even in the middle of a sunny day, I was instantly transported to the middle of the night in South America.
This time, it was about 15 minutes from closing, when we came upon the lion habitat. To our delight, the male lion was active, and walked right past the glass. It was thrilling to be only a few feet away from the face of the king of the jungle. As we turned to leave, the lion let out a small roar. This roar, as small as it may have been, was enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck, and reverberate in my chest.
My brother-in-law, who is visiting, recounted a time when, as a youth pastor, he was in Swaziland, Africa on a mission trip with a team from his church. At night, their group slept in huts in a field. As they lay in bed in the dark, they could hear wild lions roaring outside the hut not far away. He told me he had never heard a sound like that before or since. Not surprisingly, they didn’t have any trouble with students sneaking out of the huts at night.
As followers of Christ, we have to understand what our enemy’s intentions are. The Apostle Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).
Jesus made it clear that the devil’s intentions for us are hostile: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” There is no mistaking that the devil, just like a wild lion, is not someone to play games with. We have to stay vigilant. But Jesus tells us why he came, when he followed that statement by saying, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).
This past weekend, we celebrated Easter. On the cross, Jesus faced that lion, the devil, the harbinger of death, with unflinching courage. At the resurrection, Jesus de-clawed that lion and pulled out its teeth. Sure, he may roar. But for those whose hope is in Christ, his threat holds no power over eternity. Jesus came to give us life—rich and satisfying, forever, starting now.
You might still hear the roar of the lion, the specter in the jungle. But stay alert. Be prepared. Stay in the sheltered hut of Jesus’ strength. Spend your first seven minutes in the day arming yourself with prayer and God’s word. Take ahold of the rich and satisfying life that Jesus offers.