I stood in the kitchen over a pan of uncooked eggs, stirring them gently, when out of no where my dog starts barking. Now, it's not often that my dog produces this particular bark so I abandon my eggs to find out what he has gotten himself into. I round the corner to find him standing about three feet from the tiniest, most adorable kitten you've ever in the troughs of a good old western showdown. The two pound kitten stands with his back hunched up high, his claws digging into the carpet, and he is hissing with all of his might. And there stands my 60 pound, Australian shepherd...barking. Not his vicious, guard dog bark that has sent grown men jumping for the bushes, but rather a high pitched squeak most closely related to a child trying to get the attention of their inattentive parents.
Watching now with amusement, I try to coax my dog around the hissing fluff ball hardly bigger than a small pile of cotton balls, but he stands there unmoved. Buried in fear, he is still beckoning me to come to his rescue. I finally pick up the "ferocious beast" as it attempts to burrow its tiny claws into me in fear and put him safely in another room. Both animals now feel like I have saved them from an impending danger and I walk back to my now, over cooked eggs, bewildered by my dogs unrealistic calculation of danger. "Cats are supposed to be scared of you Timber, not the other way around!" I say as I scoop my eggs onto my plate.
Now in his defense, he never had much experience with cats until we moved to Latvia. We were living on the second floor of an old Soviet apartment and several cats had taken it upon themselves to be the doormen and hallway patrol in this particular building. Several days after moving there, Timber approached said doorman with all the curiosity and gumption of a wide eyed child at Disneyland and was met mere sections later with a full on slap across the face by the biggest, baddest cat that side of the Baltic Sea. He stammered back in shock and has never walked past a cat without a security guard since.
Regardless of his experience, I still can't help but find myself perplexed over his mistaken identity every time he finds himself toe to toe with another cat. He is tall and strong, with the confidence to boss around a 1,500 pound cow and yet he cowers in fear in the presence of a tiny kitten? How can this be?
Yet, I wonder how many of us also have a case of mistaken identity and miscalculation of danger. We live in a world of comfort and security, most often surround by people who look the same, act the same and think the same. Then God calls us to do something out of the box; go on this trip, welcome a foster child into your home, move across the world, go talk to that person over there who looks like they are hurting. Suddenly we turn into a 60 pound dog calling out in fear to be rescued from a 2 pound kitten. It seems too terrifying with the claws out and all the hissing going on. Maybe we've gotten slapped in the face before. And that's just how the enemy likes to keep us; terrified, inactive, paralyzed in fear.
Now in some ways, we have every right to be fearful. The bible references a pretty fearsome cat-like animal itself when describing the enemy:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
Lions roar to protect their territory and keep invaders out. I don't know about you, but if I heard a lion roaring out in the wild, I'd certainly be high tailing it out of there without a second thought. So, whatever would ever inspire us to keep going and actually enter the enemies territory after that roar rings in our ears?
Our identity in Christ.
Jesus himself said in Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!"
You know what that means? It means we win! It means that if we are in Christ, than we can stare down that roaring lion as if it were a kitten and keep on walking because the enemy will not prevail. It means that he is supposed to fear US, not the other way around. Not because he isn't a lion, but because our identity as children of God makes us even more powerful than a lion.
Don't let yourself be fooled by the hissing or the roaring. He may look fearsome, but darkness still trembles in the presence of light. We may get slapped a time or two, but that shouldn't stop us from the goal. God is already building his church. Let's be bold enough to do it with him.