I was riding fence just on the four wheeler after a pretty big windstorm had passed through. Several pine tops around the house had been broken off and I was pretty sure that since all of our fencing is electric and most all of it is bordered by woods, that limbs would have wires down somewhere on the place.
At about 6:30 p.m. as I rounded the northeast corner of the south pasture, something just inside the fence caught my eye. My first thoughts, by the look of its ears, what that it was a fawn. "No it could not be a fawn, it is too small. It is a baby fox! No, that is not right, the color is too light and the tail is too skinny". As I got about 50 feet from the critter that had caught my attention, suddenly two or three more appeared and it was apparent that they were baby coyotes. This was the first time I had ever seen a baby coyote. They looked to be about six weeks old.
I turned off my four wheeler and just sat and watched them for 30 minutes or more. Within just minutes, five of the little pups had appeared and seemed amused at my appearance. They looked at me but did not seem to be too alarmed by my presence. In just a little while, they were frolicking and playing with one another just like all young-uns do. One pup would pounce upon the another's tail, while others just roamed around or stopped to scratch fleas. They wrestled and played, going in and out of the wood line, every now and then stopping to look at me.
Before long, I could identify one from the other when they came out. One was obviously the runt of the litter and it was the most adventurous and bold. Another was the largest of the bunch, and it was the most cautious and alert. They were so cute and playful! My first thoughts were: 'This will be fun to watch them grow up. If I can see them every day they will get used to my presence and the sound of the four wheeler. My boys will love to see these pups.' I sat there thinking about how neat this experience was and about how fun it would be to watch them grow up. I even took several videos of the pups as I watched them so that I could document their growth.
I sat there all excited feeling like a genuine National Geographic photographer when suddenly I remembered the two registered Angus calves that we had already lost to coyotes. During calving season, coyotes are always a threat and we see them every few days and hear their howls and whines at night, wondering if they have attacked another calf. Some nights, I will get in the truck and drive across the road to the calving pasture and shine my spotlight to drive them off, or I will at least go out on the front porch and fire a shot with my shotgun to scare them away.
It sounds like there are dozens of them when they sound off. If you have ever heard them, you know the sound and the eeriness of hearing them in the dark. If you have ever seen a month old calf that had been attacked and eaten by coyotes, you know how brutal and vicious they really are.
I remember one night a couple of years ago when I heard trouble in the chicken coop which is in the planted pines just outside our bedroom window. I had heard coyotes that night yelping and whining earlier as they hunted, so I got out of bed and walked outside in the dark with nothing on but my underwear, boots and a pistol in my hand. (Yep, I looked like you are visualizing!) Just as I approached the gate, I was completely surrounded by several growling canines. Whether they were wild dogs or coyotes I do not know, but at the moment it did not matter. They were all around me. I immediately fired a couple of shots in the ground and I heard them run off. Though coyote attacks on humans are rare, I can assure you that their sound alone will scare you to the point that you will hurt yourself trying to get back to the house!
But these little coyote pups that I had driven up on in the pasture were so small, cute, playful. They were harmless. What would be wrong with just letting these few pups grow up and coexist with our cattle. What harm could these little playful pups cause--especially if I could build some kind of relationship with them? They are just little, harmless puppies!
That night as I watched the videos of the pups over and over and showed them to my grandsons, I thought about how these little, playful and seemingly harmless coyotes and my thought to try to make friends with them were so analogous to the way sin gets a hold on us.
First, there is something or someone that attracts us or gets our attention. Sometimes the thought or attraction is the bait of Satan, other times it may just be the tendencies of our own sinful heart. At first, it seems to be little, cute, attractive, interesting, beneficial and harmless, so we rationalize that it cannot hurt anything if we just coexisted and interacted with it a little. Sometime we can even see it as being God sent! I mean, it's just a look or a thought, surely that could not hurt anything and it may even make me better or at least it will meet a need that I have. The next thing we know, we realize that those little pups have grown up and we find ourselves surrounded by a vicious pack of grown up coyotes that are out to kill and destroy us.
These temptations may be an object, a thought, an action, or a person, but though they seem harmless at first, they grow up and take us further than we intended to go, make us stay longer than we intended to stay, and cost us more than we wanted to pay!
I remember a preacher friend telling me once that we are never tempted by something or someone that is unattractive. Temptation is always attractive and seductive or it would not be tempting, it would not catch our attention.
There are many examples we can look at in our lives and the lives of others, but just consider the familiar case of King David in the Bible. The same man who God referred to as "a man after My own heart." David was home from the war, was alone and could not sleep so he got out of bed and stepped out on the roof of his house. He was not looking for anything or anyone, but he happened to look down and he saw Bathsheba (the very beautiful wife of one of his soldiers) taking a bath. That definitely got his attention.
Bathsheba was not doing anything wrong or looking to do anything wrong, but was doing just what she normally did in the privacy of her own courtyard. At this point David had just accidently seen her but he had not sinned. But as he continued to look, he began to lust and think of how good she could be for him, so he sent a servant to go see who she was. The servant came back and asked: "Is this not Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?" Caught in his passion, David ignored the question of his servant and he sent for Bathsheba and he lay with her and she became pregnant. Bathsheba was a victim because she was a subject of the king and was required to do as he demanded. Had David listened to his servant, this would have been his way out. To lay with the wife of one of his most elite and loyal soldiers would not only be foolish, but unjust and shameful.
Hebrew law required that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned, so David not only committed adultery, but he also lied and even had Uriah killed to try to hide his sin. For a man of God such as David to stoop to this kind of sinful behavior, shows us that there is no limit to the depths of sin that you and I are capable of once we start to walk or stray away from God!
"Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (James 1:15). Just as a child is a human being before it is born, so sin is in our hearts before it is revealed. When we hold temptation in our hearts and fantasize about it in our minds, sin in conceived; and once sin is conceived, if brings forth death.
The good news is: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9) Even so, we cannot afford to let the smallest sin enter our hearts or minds or they will eventually grow up and devour us. Though God will forgive us when we confess and turn from our sin, we still have to face the consequences.