“What an unusual cactus,” I said. “Look how soft and fuzzy it is at the top.”
Fortunately, I was given some interesting and extremely helpful information before I got too close.
This variety of cactus is known by more than one name. It’s called Teddy Bear cactus because of the appearance of fuzzy arms outstretched. The name Jumping Cholla gives me a less friendly impression.
I was informed the sharp barbs would actually jump onto me if I got too close. It seems the arms detach easily and attach to passersby. I wouldn’t even have to brush against it before I would experience a less than cuddly teddy bear.
This was all the warning needed for me to keep my distance. It was also a good reminder that appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes the biggest danger is hidden behind an exterior that looks safe and welcoming.
Satan loves to tempt us with things that look innocent. When we express interest, sharp barbs get a grip on us. Before we know it we are ensnared in activities we have trouble detaching from.
When faced with temptation, my best course of action is always to talk to Jesus. He knows how to keep me from temptation and how to free me when my foolish actions place me in a dangerous situation.
Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18 GWT)
We planned to stop for gas in a more populated area. However, when the gas light came on, we knew this wasn’t going to be an option and took the exit for the next small town.
The first thing we saw as we entered the quiet street were two dogs were running down the middle of the road.
When we drew nearer, one of the dogs moved to the left shoulder. The other stayed on the centre line. We slowed down to pass this animal but it had other ideas. The dog stayed close to the front wheel, barking as if it were chasing us out of town.
This dog was fearless and kept up with us for several blocks. We didn’t want to risk hitting it and it quickly became clear the animal and not the vehicle was setting the pace.
The dog did not give up until it was satisfied we had been chased far enough away. Only then did it stop.
I wondered about the times I have been on my way to a calling the Lord has given me, only to encounter a version of this barking dog. The obstacle could be disguised in many forms. The only certainty was the desire to change my direction. How did I react?
Did I slow down, unsure if I should keep going? Perhaps I turned around, thinking I might be on the wrong road. Or, maybe I prayed for guidance and kept moving forward.
My friends, we face an enemy who doesn’t want to see us succeed in the name of the Lord. He has already been defeated but does his best to convince us he is in control. This is only the case if we believe the lie.
He would not be nipping at my heels if I weren’t a threat to his plans. When I remember this I am not easily chased away. Instead I increase my focus on the Lord, knowing I am definitely on the right road.
“Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NLT)