Four years have passed since the tragic mauling at a San Francisco Zoo. One 17 year old boy’s life was taken while two others were injured during a tiger’s escape from its pen. The story headlined across news stations nationwide. One of the biggest questions that arose at the first hearing of the mauling, was how did the tiger escape?. Zoo’s are known to provide safe distances and barriers between wild animals and visiting tourists. How did or what would provoke a tiger to leave its pen and attack these young patrons? According to Wikipedia
In the days immediately following the attack, the director of the zoo stated that Tatiana (the tiger )was probably provoked. He said, “Somebody created a situation that really agitated her and gave her some sort of a method to break out. There is no possible way the cat could have made it out of there in a single leap. I would surmise that there was help. A couple of feet dangling over the edge could possibly have done it.” Sources told the San Francisco Chronicle that pinecones and sticks were found which might have been thrown at Tatiana, and which could not have landed there naturally.[
Another visitor reported observing a couple of youth waving and taunting the tiger. It was later found out that the wall that enclosed the tiger was not high enough, and also that the youth who were attacked, were under the influence of alcohol. Lawsuits followed, and in the end the tiger was put to death.
In a brief search as I tried to refresh my memory with the details of this case, I came across a couple of other incidents of maulings. In these cases the maulings occurred because the visiting patrons refused to ignore the boundaries; they hopped or fell over the fence and were mauled to death.
I have to confess that when I read about these incidents, I shake my head in disbelief asking myself, why would anyone attempt to hop the fence of a tiger? Why would they even place themselves in such a position? Don’t they realize what can happen? Is that closer look really worth the pain and suffering?
Ironically, I see many christians make the same mistakes, and find themselves getting mauled by the enemy.
1 Peter 5:8 states
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
So many Christians fall into sin, because they have either failed to set up appropriate boundaries, and or have failed to stay vigilant. As Christians we need to identify the areas where we are weak and vulnerable, the dividing line between God’s territory and Satan’s. So many times we are tempted and drawn away by our various lusts, and seek to find out how much can we get away with, how close to the lion can we get without getting bit. It’s like we are taunting him, throwing stones, not realizing that we have already crossed into the territory of a hungry lion, salivating for its next meal.
Often times I wander how I made it 27 years as a virgin, before marrying. Its not because I’m ugly, and definitely not because I’m super holy. I’d like to say I had some of the same struggles that most young men had. I can say without fail that it is my refusal to put myself in compromising situations that allowed me to stay untainted. In college, I made a decision to stay connected to a church, and a campus group. I also chose not to go to frat parties or clubs like most college students do. I also chose not to just date anyone. Was I attracted to girls, of course, did I struggle with lust? Yes, but God provided me with the grace and strength to overcome, and eventually find the one.
Many times we fall because we place ourselves in compromising situations. As Christians we should always be mindful of what atmosphere we are in. The longer we are in sinful environments, the more we get accustomed to them, and the less we guard ourselves ( stay vigilant ) against attacks. Most of us would not advise alcoholics to hang around near bars, or spend time drinking, nor would we advise someone overcoming drug addiction, to hang around the streets with the local dealers and hustlers, yet this is what we continually do. Men who struggle with lust, watch movies and television filled with sex, sex and more sex. Its hard to find one commercial that does not have some type of sexual innuendo.
But its not just that, even when Christians are in relationships, many times they are in relationships that are unequally yoked. I am so tired of seeing church women, end up dating the heathen man who comes to church for a couple of Sunday’s and pass him off as genuinely saved. Then even when you do find someone who genuinely loves God, we often put ourselves in compromising situations where the dating couple is at their home late at night cuddled up on a couch. I can testify, that is not the safest place to be. Watching a movie becomes watching your date, which leads to touching, and all sorts of hormonal fireworks going off. The more you give into those situations, the more likely you are to fall.
Scripture speaks of the need to be aware of the situations we place ourselves in. Peter says
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Paul also gives this advice in Thessalonians
Abstain from every form of evil.
Scripture provides a recipe to fight temptation.
- The first is to identify the potential pitfall. We need to identify the lusts that rage within ourselves.
- The second step is to run away from them. You see our old nature is powerful, (see the venom with in post from earlier), sometimes the best fights we win are the fights we avoid. To flee from means after locating the object of lust, we avert our eyes and turn the other way. Paul echoes this with the passage from Thessalonians when he says to abstain from every form of evil. We are to keep away from the caged Lion. Don’t pet it this is not your normal domestic cat, but a ferocious lion who is intent on devouring you.
- The third and fourth steps are intertwined. We are told to pursue righteousness but not by ourselves, with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.
- You see we can’t do this walk by ourselves. You are not strong enough on your own to handle everything the devil will throw at you. You need help and not just from anyone. Remember this fact, not all who call on the Lord are calling on him with a pure heart. What are we calling on him for, we are calling for him to deliver us from sin, from our temptation, from ourselves.
Brothers and sisters God has called us unto a life of holiness. It’s hard, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you. There’s a reason the road is narrow, there are boundaries that many just don’t want to follow, that’s why only a few will enter in. In this post I wrote mainly about lust, but we have to understand that we need to have boundaries in every area of our life; at work, in what we read, study, watch, say, and where we go. We don’t do this to be legalistic, but to guard the gift that was given to us; eternal life. I pray that you would look at your life, and your relationships and re-evaluate your boundaries. Are there changes that need to be made? Are there trustworthy people you can find who will hold you accountable? Are you standing too close to the fence? May God’s spirit lead you, and grant you wisdom. Pray for me as I pray for you.