I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget Blaze, the feisty, sharp-toothed canine who bit me during my run this morning.
Blaze saw me coming from about a quarter-mile in the distance, beginning his charge upon first sight. As he drew near, I thought he’d veer away from me and keep his attack on a tense, but verbal basis. Instead, he circled me several times before moving in for a nip on the back of my leg. Apparently satisfied, he then barked in a self-congratulatory way and left me to bleed.
The owner (who should have had Blaze on a leash, behind a fence, or chained in a dungeon) apologized and said what all owners of biting dogs say. “He’s so sweet! I can’t believe he bit you!” (neighbors told a different story, of course). The lady assured me that Blaze is up to date on his shots (except for the Valium injection he should be receiving daily). So, all that was left for me to do was clean the minor wound, get a tetanus shot (which I’ve been needing anyway), and think about the spiritual implications of the experience (when you write and speak as often as I do, you look for God’s lessons in everything, including the sharp teeth of “so sweet” dogs!).
The main thought that occurs to me is the reassuring remembrance that, unlike freely-roaming Blaze, our spiritual enemies are on a leash, God’s leash.
“Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (Job 1:9-12).
The Lord calls us to be wary of our adversary, and He does often allow the devil’s leash to extend quite a ways in his malevolent attacks upon us. However, we do well to remember that our spiritual enemies can do nothing outside the framework of God’s permissive will. They can do much damage, but for the heart that trusts and submits to Lord in the midst of challenge, Satan’s attacks become God’s opportunities. Indeed, while we don’t know how he thought or felt about the cross, it’s certainly possible that the devil imagined he had won the victory of the ages when the Lord Jesus suffered and died at Calvary. Instead, he sealed his ultimate fate and doom as the cross led to the resurrection, ascension, and triumph of our Savior.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (II Corinthians 12:7).
An unleashed, toothy Blaze prompts thoughts of a similarly toothy, but tethered devil and his minions. Moreover, they remind me that our enemies’ attacks create possibilities for the spiritual counterattack of believing that nothing approaches us apart from the determinate or permissive will of God. Such affirmation transforms victims into those who draw near to the risen Christ, and who walk in the victory that not only raised Him from the dead…
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)