I was out hiking in the woods with my Samoyed some time ago when we came upon a situation I wasn’t expecting. There are a lot of deer around here and some coyotes too. The two don’t usually have much to do with each other as there are plenty of rabbits and squirrels and the deer are too big for the coyotes to want to mess with. However this day a fawn had failed to keep up with the herd and soon it was scrambling for it’s life with a big coyote in hot pursuit. Fortunately for the fawn, Klondike was way more interested in the coyote than he was in deer and he was the only thing standing in the way of some very ugly business. The coyote spotted Klondike and decided to make a wide circle around him while the desperate fawn just sped right past us. Klondike gave the fawn just enough time to make it back to the herd of does who quickly turned the tables and had the coyote fleeing in the other direction.
Almost every species from cockroaches to giant musk oxen is the target of another greater species seeking food. What occurs to me is that God has given each animal a unique method of defense. Some have been given camouflage, some great speed, others teeth and claws. However for most large and relatively defenseless species like the deer, the only defense is numbers. Predators often set their sights on the young as the most likely candidates for a kill. Without their parents the youngsters would be completely defenseless. They have not yet acquired the speed or size of the adult animals and would have no chance of surviving without the protection of their parents and their herds. When the herd detects danger a protective circle will often be formed around the babies to keep the predators at bay.
It occurs to me that humans are no different. When we get separated from our families and friends we are vulnerable. For children, parents are the first line of defense while watchful neighbors, teachers and friends come in a close second. As adults we are not as vulnerable as children, but danger still lurks once we are alone. Illness, job loss, natural disasters and society’s criminal element can all cause catastrophe for individuals and families. For many, the extended family may make the difference between safety and disaster. For some, the extended family might be aunts uncles and cousins. For others who have moved far from home in quest of a career, a church family may close the gap.
More importantly, as spiritual beings our struggles are not always with an enemy we can see. Sometimes “our battle is not against flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers of the air”. Just like the deer our enemy is a roaring predator roaming about “seeking whom he may destroy”. The bible refers to us as sheep and of course sheep are most vulnerable when they are separated from the others. Perhaps it would be wise not to stray too far from from “the fold”, but will I follow my own advice?