I try to live a simple life. Except for a handful of Chihuahua emergencies over the years involving a bumblebee, a flyswatter, a mousetrap, and a rubber glove, it is a quiet and sheltered life. With the possible exception of a bizarre and somewhat over-publicized incident in college years ago involving a used hot dog pizza, a nighttime visit to a bronze Tiger statue, streaking, a powerful set of headlights and an obviously stunned female  driver, I am seldom visibly shaken.

Recently I was reminded of something that happened at Vanderbilt University several years ago. This is not for the squeamish. If you have preschoolers do not let them read any further unless you have access to a trained child psychologist or SpongeBob SquarePants. Once upon a time there were swooping owls at Vanderbilt – not to be confused with the more docile Rice Owls of Houston, who have lost their swoop.

If I am paying $75,000 a year to attend Vanderbilt I expect to deal with a losing football team, parking problems, and construction issues. I should not have to worry about swooping owls. Rumor has it that the owls were turned loose on the campus to control the squirrel population but were attacking the students instead. I realize it may be a fine line in some cases but don’t owls know the difference between squirrels and students? One student was quoted as saying, “I guess my head looked like a squirrel!”

This is an outrage! First, I want to know why there was a perfectly good rumor going around and no Baptists were notified. Second, I want to know why the students’ heads  look like squirrels. These students will eventually graduate, own corporations, and cheer for Florida when they play Tennessee. Another eyewitness said, “It attacked a security officer near Divinity. We looked through the area but did not see any nests.” Well, of course not! You can’t see security officer nests with the naked eye. You must have highly sophisticated night vision goggles with donut-infused lenses.

The owls were a nuisance but everyone should be thankful these were not swooping vultures or swooping pigeons. Several of the students said their biggest frustration with the owls was that they never saw them coming. Vultures and pigeons make noise in flight. You can hear them coming. Owls are silent attackers.

So it is in life. Sometimes the most devastating attack on the Christian is when we least expect it. We never see it coming. We get blindsided. Satan (“Beowlzebub”, in this case) can be extremely cunning. He knows he does not always have to confront us with the vultures of wealth, power, greed, or uncontrolled anger. He can creep up on us through pride, laziness, lack of self-control, not spending enough time in God’s word – like the silent attack of a supposedly innocent owl.

How do we defend ourselves from such attacks? James 4:7 says, Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).  Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray. Then you won’t fall into sin when you are tempted” (NIV). Satan is going to tempt us but we have God on our side. While Satan preys on our weaknesses we should be praying to God for strength. Birds of prey are no match for words of prayer because preying claws cannot undo the grasp of praying hands.

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