The other day, I was running at one of my favorite spots. It’s called Manasquan Reservoir. It literally is a reservoir, a huge body of water surrounded by pristine woodlands with a trail circling it stretching 5.2 miles. When you run the trail early in the morning, as I like to do, you will always see some kind of wildlife, be it deer, raccoons, and in the summer, even a family of bald eagles. As I was about a half mile from finishing, I came around a bend in the trail and was greeted by a six-point buck whitetail deer about twenty feet away.
While I was in awe as to how close we were, the fact of the matter was that he couldn’t have cared less. He may have looked at me for two seconds but casually walked away without a hint of fear or concern. The answer for that reaction is actually pretty simple.
First of all, the reservoir is a county park, so there is never any hunting around. Second, even if there was hunting, it’s not even hunting season, so there are no guns going off anywhere and hunters aren’t walking around in the woods. And third, and probably the best reason, is that that deer, since he was born, has probably seen people running, walking, riding bikes on the trail and they never seemed to be any kind of threat.
Lest We Get Too Comfortable With Our Surroundings
That deer is probably going to die from old age before he falls prey to a hunter, but if he ever wanders off the county park property into the surrounding woods and it’s during hunting season, well, you get the idea. He is just like us when it comes to sin. We are surrounded by it every single day and many times we are complacent, do not perceive it as a threat because maybe it has never bothered us or hurt us, but the fact of the matter is despite our perception it’s still there.
It is when we are the most complacent, the most relaxed and feeling the safest in our cozy, little bubble we put ourselves in that we are the most vulnerable and in the most danger. It is exactly at that time that we need to be the most vigilant.
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Ephesians 5:15-16: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
The devil and sin never come at us looking like it really looks. I’m sure if we were to see the face of evil or look at sin the way God does we would run, not walk, in the other direction. Sin comes at us in a subtle way, under the radar, innocuous, and like me to that deer, harmless and not a threat. But you and I are not deer; we are not animals whose actions are based upon instinct and/or a learned response. We are supposed to be intelligent, mature Christians who should never let our guard down. If we do, then the results can many times be devastating.
Beware The Black Swan
Back in 2007, a book was written by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb called “The Black Swan.” While it was largely a book on financial markets and issues, the underlying theme is that a “black swan” is an event, typically negative (though it can also be positive), that is completely and 100% unexpected, an event that all logical-thinking people or society as a whole view as completely improbable. But when they occur (and they do), the events prove to be dramatic and cause people to think completely different going forward (until, of course, the next black swan event).
The 2008 financial crisis was such a time. No person—no one—predicted nor accurately considered the extent of that crisis. Yes, some people saw a downturn coming, but the almost-collapse of the entire financial system? Nope, nobody saw that coming. The term “black swan” comes from the fact that centuries ago when English settlers went to Australia there were, in fact, black swans there.
The entire continent of Europe never thought such a thing was possible. In their world, swans were white. So you see, truth be told, there are always going to be events in our life that we never see coming. That’s perfectly normal. You cannot predict the future, and stuff happens that we would never predict to happen, ever. Remember, it is when things are the most likely to change dramatically when we are the most complacent. Just ask Job.
How Blessed Are We
I don’t know about you, but it is certainly comforting to know that despite all the changes that can come my way in life, despite the black swan events, there is one thing that never changes and that is the word of God. Never changes since the beginning, now and forever. The solution to all our problems, the answer in times of confusion, comfort in times of suffering and distress, and knowledge beyond what we ourselves are incapable of. Read it, study it, meditate on it, and you will never be vulnerable due to complacency again.