To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed; be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
This has always been a favorite section of scripture of mine, and over the years, I have many times contemplated the part about the devil going about as a roaring lion looking for a victim to eat. That makes such a vivid picture in my mind, and even more so since living in Africa and having seen the King of the Beasts in his natural habitat. He is so confident in his own strength and position that he fears nothing. I am told by Africans who have done it, that you can walk out in a field of lions lounging around, and they’ll simply watch you. If the devil roars when he goes after his prey, he’s pretty dumb, because the real lion knows better than to scare his victim off with his mighty roar!
If a person does happen to be attacked by a real lion, if he can gather his courage and stand firm, facing that lion, maybe even shouting and running towards him, that lion will turn tail and flee! The lion is so confident in himself because he’s always had his prey run away from him. If it turns and chases him, he doesn’t know what to do! Maybe it even scares him a bit, because he can’t imagine how this flimsy two-legged human could possibly chase him! Likewise, when we stand firm in our faith, James says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (4:7) Somehow I think it scares Satan too when we turn and face him with the strength and power of our God behind us! That also is unexpected behavior from his prey because it seldom happens.
Recently I had opportunity to share this section of Scripture with a dear pastor Stephen in Uganda who’s been an incredible blessing to our ministries, assisting us with legal advice and years of experience and knowledge working with ministries, organizations, both local and international. He’s often referred to himself as a spiritual father and to me as a spiritual mother to these ministries and people we work with in them. In pondering these verses in the days before and after writing him, I realized that we were both elders, serving as overseers to a flock God has given each of us, because we are willing, as God wants us to be. I have often thought of my need to be a Christlike example to the younger people whom God is allowing me to shepherd; a huge responsibility. But I had elders who did the same for me when I was younger, teaching and training me too. And thus the cycle goes on.
In a video I put together to show during my furlough, there’s a scene where about 50 Africans are towing a wrecked car which was used to teach victim extrication during a SEVO training seminar. That car was a nightmare, having sat out in a field rusting for who knows how long? It had no wheels, no windows, so they hooked 2 long ropes to it and pulled it on its top. When it was positioned where they wanted it, they rolled it over onto its axles with a loud crash, pieces of rust flying in all directions.
After having seen the video in his church, an American pastor commented how much that was like his life before Jesus! A real wreck! Drug addicted, filthy in every way, but God’s people were there to pull him out of the ditch, to move him step by step by team effort, to where he needed to be, to flip him over the right way. We must continue serving God by caring for our charges.
I will be in the Seattle and Everett, Washington, areas the first 2 weeks in July. Again, if you care to contact me for visits or ministry, please contact me at email@example.com so we can get something on my schedule.
Please continue to pray for Uganda and for me on my travels in the USA.