Our bird watching has spilled over into our camping trips. Somewhere along the way it dawned on us that we could see different birds in different areas of the country. So we began carrying small bags of birdseed and scattering it around the campsites. I saw my first savannah sparrow at Blackwater River, my first nuthatch at Cloudland Canyon, and on our latest trip, my first dark-eyed junco at Black Rock Mountain.
That’s not all we saw. We had laid the seed along the landscaping timbers that both defined the site and kept our little aerie from washing down the mountainside. As long as we sat fairly still and talked quietly, the little gray birds with the white vests hopped closer and closer down the long chunk of weathered wood, pecking at the free and easy meal. Suddenly a loud crunch behind us caused the birds to fly. We turned and there sat a fat gray squirrel enjoying the free meal himself, and much more of it.
“Shoo!” we yelled simultaneously. He reached down and pawed another kernel.
Keith hopped up and spun around his chair, clapping his hands with every “Git!” and every step. Finally the squirrel hopped away, not nearly as scared as I wished.
Since he was up anyway, Keith started the cook fire and I walked around the tent toward the back of the truck where we stowed our food supplies. There on the other side of the tent sat the squirrel, once again noshing on the birdseed.
“Scat!” I shouted, running right at him. Again he turned and leisurely hopped away.
After that we were up and around a bit and he kept his distance. But soon Keith had stepped back into the woods to pick up some deadfall for a later fire in the evening while he waited for the flame to die down to coals, and I was in the screen tent setting the table and prepping the chops for grilling. I looked up just in time to see that little marauder headed straight for the open screen door, gently waving in the breeze. He had bypassed the birdseed and was aiming to score people food.
Only my clumsiness and advancing years kept me from vaulting the table. Instead, I ran around it, knocking both knees on the corner of the bench and nearly laming myself in the process, stomping, yelling, clapping, and every other noise I could manage. For once he showed a little alarm and scooted through the brush surrounding us.
Keith returned and we both bustled around the tents, the truck, and the fire, cooking and laying out the meal. Half an hour later we sat down to inch thick, herb-rubbed, wood-grilled pork chops, Spanish rice, and skillet corn and red peppers. Meanwhile, the squirrel sat down to more birdseed. He crept up behind Keith, he crept up behind me. He hopped along the timber behind the fire, then tried the one behind the tent. Every time Keith jumped up and scared him off.
After the sixth or seventh time that I touched Keith’s hand and pointed, he hung his head in defeat. “Let him eat,” he said, ferociously stabbing a fork into his chop and sawing with far more exertion than necessary, “so I can.”
That’s exactly the way Satan comes after us. Do you need a Biblical example to believe this? How about Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39)? She appealed to Joseph’s natural appetites first, by far the strongest appeal to a young man. She made it look rewarding—she was the Master’s wife after all, imagine the extra privileges he might have received. She spoke to Joseph “day by day,” a constant and growing pressure on him. Even though he seems to have made it his business to avoid her, finally she managed to catch him alone—now it was even easier to give in. And boy, did she make him pay when he didn’t.
Satan is persistent. He comes from every angle and tries every trick. Sometimes he comes as often as every few minutes. He will never give up. Even just fighting him will cost you—time, comfort, convenience, security, wealth, friends, freedom, maybe even your life. But if you give up, the cost is even worse. If you say, “Let him eat,” he will—he will “devour” your eternal soul, every last bite.
Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, prowls about, seeking whom he may devour…Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand…To that end keep alert with all perseverance…1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11-13, 18.