Of course, a select few of us who were privileged to grow up on a farm will recall the "Real McCoy", as it were. The purpose of a scarecrow was and is literally to scare crows out of one’s gardens and/or fields. In the world where I grew up, nearly everyone employed such a ruse at one time or the other.
What occasioned my blog idea today is what I encountered last week as I approached the doors to the local church we attend. The church’s leaders had taken a proverbial page from the farmer’s almanac, and placed several very lifelike three dimensional coyote archery targets near the various entrances to the facility.
What was their purpose in doing this? Well, the church grounds are located adjacent to a large lake and several semi-resident flocks of geese. With little to fear, the emboldened bird often parade around the church’s grounds in great numbers, causing major destruction to the lawns and landscaping, and leaving behind voluminous waste deposits all over the sidewalks and parking lots.
As if to add insult to injury, they sometimes even harass members arriving for worship on Sundays. Kudos, then, to those who thought up the idea of scaring them off with the faux predators. From all appearances, the scheme has worked, at least for the time being.
That being said, the appearance of a pack of coyotes laying siege to the entrances of a church building can be a little disconcerting. And I will admit that I was initially taken aback by the sight. Only after I came to realize that they were fakes did I let my guard down.
As I walked passed them and into the building, for some reason, the thought that came to my mind was a quote from Don Henley, who once famously asserted that "The wolf is always at the door!" This was followed by a brief glimpse in my mind’s eye of a scene from the 2011 survival movie, The Grey, starring Liam Neeson, wherein a group of petroleum workers, having survived a plane crash in northern Alaska, have arrayed themselves in a circle around a large fire at night even as a pack of snarling wolves, eyes glimmering in the light, harasses them on all sides.
In many respects, having wolves gathered at one’s door is a fitting metaphor for life. Many a person who has never seen a literal wolf can still appreciate this concept. Who among us has not faced financial wolves at our door in the form of creditors or bill-collectors? Or physical wolves in the form of sickness? Or emotional wolves in the form of discouragement or depression or sorrow? Or ethical and moral wolves at the door in the form of temptation after temptation? The list goes on and on…
Are the wolves even now at your door individually? Very likely they are. Are the wolves even now also at our door collectively? After all, is not what is true of us individually also true of us communally? Do we not as a society face many, many wolves at the door? Relationally, as families struggle against seemingly insurmountable pressures? Medically, as we face diseases and pandemics galore? Culturally, as we are assaulted by pressures unimagined by our forebears? Historically, as we drift further and further from our heritage? And above all, theologically, as we seem to have lost our Biblical moorings?!
How fitting, then, that our Lord, Himself, should remind us that the wolf is always at our door! And that includes the door of the church! Remember, Jesus told us that we who follow Him would be as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16, Luke 10:3). And as Jesus further points out, it is the nature of wolves to attempt to attack and destroy sheep (John 10:12). We should therefore anticipate such treatment from the world. It is to be expected.
But our Lord also asserts that we can expect to face what He called "wolves in sheep’s clothing" (Matthew 7:15). We must keep our guard up, then, against those who are in reality false prophets, and who would enter the house of God in disguise, seeking only to harm the flock of God. For this reason, the Apostle Paul also admonished us to be wary of "savage wolves" coming in and "not sparing the flock" of God (Acts 20:29).
For all these reasons, I urge believers to be careful of the wolf which lurks just outside the door! His bold presence there shows that he seeks any and every opportunity to enter and to attack and to bring destruction to every facet of our lives!
But this raises a question. Is there anything else we can do other than just to be vigilant and on our guard? Indeed there is; and the Apostle James (chapter 4, verses 7-10) tells us what that is. We are to:
"7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn, and weep. Turn your laughter to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you."
How, then, are we to respond when the wolf is at the door? We are first to submit ourselves fully to our God. Then, and only then, we are to actively resist the devil. And ultimately, we are to allow the Lord to give us victory as He fights for us.
As you commit to do these things, remember the words of the Apostle Paul (in Romans 8:31 of the Amplified Bible): “If God is for us, who can be successful against us?”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grey_(film). The scene referenced above occurs about thirty minutes into the two hour movie. (Be advised; while an otherwise excellent study in the "man against nature" genre, the movie contains excessive amounts of strong language, which is unnecessary to the plot and arguably in poor taste.)