Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Be Alert

Plop me down in front of the television at just about any time of day and within an hour or so, I’ll be dozing off. Even for a football game, movie, or the local news that I actually want to watch.
However, when I get up before dawn and snuggle into some insulated camouflage in a near-freezing deer blind with only three or four hours of sleep under my belt, I stay alert and awake all morning (and, because I don’t drink coffee, it’s not the caffeine keeping me going). I’m just too apprehensive that if I lose focus for even a few seconds I’ll miss the opportunity to take Buckzilla.
Some folks fuss that it gets pretty boring to sit there for hours just waiting and watching. Some guys will take books to read, ipods to listen to, or even a laptop to get some extra work done. But I can’t do any of that. I feel compelled to continually scour the landscape, watching, listening, hoping.
Much more often than not, I go back to camp empty-handed. But, when I’m in that blind again, I’m reinvigorated, refocused, and ready. I’m alert.

It seems to be much more difficult for me to maintain that level of alertness, however, in my daily walk. We have been told over and over that we need to “be alert:”
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
[F]rom among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:30-31, NASB)
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13, NASB)

But . . . “be alert” for what? For what are we supposed to be waiting and watching?
Well, when I’m hunting, I have to watch for subtle movements. Deer seldom come bounding into a clearing to announce their presence. Even when keeping a focused watch, all of the sudden a deer is standing twenty feet from the edge of the woods without ever drawing attention to his entry into the field. It’s almost as if he appeared out of nowhere.
Sometimes, by intently combing the brush and tree lines, I may notice that a portion of a smoother, more symmetrical outline can be seen behind the branches and grass. Patient and careful observation may then yield a flick of an ear or even a blink of an eye. But the deer aren’t wearing blaze orange, jumping up and down, or doing anything else to draw attention to themselves. They come and go and hope to avoid any detection at all as they go about their business.
That’s what we need to be alert for every day.
Yes, the Bible tells us “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) But the “roaring lion” is related to what happens when you’re not alert. We must be alert for the prowling, the subtle stalking, the insidious infiltration into our lives.
There’s no need for a precautionary command to “be alert” for a ten ton stampeding elephant. The danger is quite obvious. But we must be alert for those things that are only slight variations in what the landscape around us should look like, almost imperceptible changes.
And it’s more important to know what things are supposed to look like than to try to figure what specific things to be looking for. In other words, rather than focusing on what “the enemy” looks like, focus on what God’s plan looks like. Anything that doesn’t fit perfectly into that, should draw your attention.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is –
His good, pleasing and perfect will
. (Romans 12:2)

Know His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Be alert for anything (no matter how small) that isn’t perfectly consistent with that.
Take aim.
Destroy it.
We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons,
to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning
and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle
that keeps people from knowing God.
We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ
(2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NLT)

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