As we approached the barn, we looked up to see the cat preparing to jump up onto a large plastic mailbox adjacent to the road. The cat leaped up and grabbed hold of the newspaper slot molded into and just below the mailbox. It hung there by its front claws, while scratching furiously for traction with its rear claws, all in an attempt to gain a foothold by which it could enter the newspaper slot.
As this was happening, two adult swifts, visibly agitated, were repeatedly pummeling the cat from the air. Obviously, they were a breeding pair determined to protect their nest. On about the third or fourth pass, one must have struck a decisive peck with its beak, because the cat lost its tenuous grip and fell to the ground.
Undetermined, it sprang to its feet, and was just preparing to leap up and resume its attack when it looked up and saw my wife and me approaching. At this, it must have decided that discretion was the better part of valor, as it shot across the road and into the barn.
As we walked by, my wife peered into the newspaper slot and, sure enough, there was a nest, presumably with baby chicks tucked inside. For my part, I peered into the barn on the opposite side of the road, and caught a fleeting glimpse of the cat crouching just inside the door in the darkness. No doubt it was already planning its next strike.
As we walked on, we discussed what we had just witnessed; and quickly recognized the various truths on display. Apparently a father and mother bird had come together, courted, built a nest, and had a family. To their credit, the parenting birds had responsibly brought the next generation of life into this world.
Yet, no amount of preparation can prevent the difficulties life brings. In the course of time, evil attempted to rock their world by targeting and assailing their offspring. Once again, to their credit, they fought hard and defended their offspring. However, even this valiant effort may have not been enough if my wife and I had not happened up when we did. Our arrival, providential as it was, very likely saved their chicks and allowed then to live to see another day.
My wife and I agreed that this was a good picture of our lives together. We met, courted, married, established a home, and, to the best of our ability, in a responsible manner, brought three children into this world. In so doing, we like to believe that we honored our Creator.
Nonetheless, at various times and in various ways, our home was found to be under attack. More times than we can count, the evil one, whom the Bible affirms “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”, boldly attacked our marriage, our home, and our children. And down through the years, whenever these times came, we fought as bravely as we knew how to fend off Satan and his fiery darts and secure our home and family.
But in retrospect, of course, the victory we found in each and every situation really came not from our own efforts, but from the Lord Himself. For in truth, it was always God, in His divine providence, Who showed up at just the right time to send the evil one scurrying off in ignominious retreat.
Even today, now that our three children are all fully grown autonomous adults living out on their own, married, and raising their own children as responsibly as they know how, we agreed that the Lord still watches over and cares for both us and them.
He still shows up just in the nick of time, just when any of us find ourselves the most vulnerable, and the most susceptible to the evil one.
Only Heaven will reveal how often the Lord has delivered me, my wife, and our family from defeat at the hands of the wicked one. Until then, I pray we never forget to remember just Who He is and just what He does for us!
SCRIPTURE SOURCE: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 NLT (https://biblehub.com/1_peter/5-8.htm).