In my third and final “When Animals Attack” blog I’m drawing on some fairly recent newsworthy events.
A few weeks ago, there was news about the tragic death of an 60+ year old man out hiking with friends in Washington state who was attacked and killed by a mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus). Like you, I had to take a second look and ask myself, “really?”. Apparently this MGA (Mountain Goat with an Attitude) was stubbornly blocking their path enroute to their destination. The victim attempted to calmly shew the goat out of the way as his friends watched. The goat responded by attacking the man, knocking him down, gouging him repeatedly with its two spike like horns. Here is the interesting part, as the man lay on the ground struggling to survive this vicious attack his friends responded by ” yelling and throwing sticks and stones” at the animal. Seriously? Granted, I wasn’t there but I can guarantee that had I been on the sidelines of this attack my response would have been much more direct and violent in nature. A man is lying on the ground dying and you are satisfied to yell and throw sticks and stones? Sadly, they stayed back, fought (weakly) from a distance, and watched their friend die.
What has happened to courage? I don’t doubt they wanted to save their friend but for whatever they didn’t and couldn’t muster the guts to do what had to be done. Its a sad commentary on how so many have lost their predatory nature and their will to survive. Many are unable to function in crisis and unwilling to learn even though life may be at stake. They shut down or are comfortable assuming the role of a sheep (prey) rather than the sheep dog (protector).
What’s the lesson? How many of us have MGAs that stand in our way blocking the path to our destination? Sin takes on many forms and Satan will do everything in his power to keep us from reaching the goal God has in store for each of us. When sin blocks your path what is your response? Is it a half-hearted response? Do you attempt to quietly shew it out of the way? Maybe you really don’t want it to go away, just move enough so that you can get by.
How about when you see others being attacked? Do you stand back, yell, throw sticks and stones, being comfortable only to fight from a distance? Are you willing to say that your meek effort was the best you could do and that you are thus satisfied to watch your friends die at the hands of nature? Or are you willing to make a direct, frontal, violent assault? Remember a life is at stake. Are you a sheep or sheepdog?
The Bible tells us in Colossians 3.5 that sin should be “put to death”. Not a very meek statement. What about the famous passage from Ephesians 6.10-17:
”Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, ”
These are certainly not verses that call us to live a life of meekness when things get tough. Instead, we’re instructed to prepare ourselves for hand to hand combat. He does not say to take up a bow and some arrows and fight from a distance. Rather, you are about to participate in close quarters combat.
A few days after the mountain goat attack another story caught my attention from Colorado. A 17-year old girl was attacked by a mountain lion (Puma concolor). This was no ordinary teenage girl. First, she was driving a truck. Second, when she got a flat tire she stopped on a mountain road to change the tire HERSELF. She didn’t call roadside assistance, she took matters into her own hands. This is when the attack happened. As she was kneeling, bent over, fixing the flat tire, the mountain lion attacked. It leapt on her back as if she was a deer and sunk its claws into her back and shoulders. As she reacted to the attack the lion jumped off but turned to come at her again. Her reaction? The news interview stated that she knew she may only have one chance to get it right so she “waited until the lion got close enough that she could kick it in the head with her boot”. She did just that. Instead of running away or turning her back, she fought head on with her attacker. What a girl! (As a side note, I’ve talked to several single college guys that would love to date this girl…so if you read this…)
I’m proud of her response. She did exactly what she was supposed to when faced with an imminent threat like a mountain lion. Her response should also be our response. When faced with the threats that Satan throws at us or when confronted with the reality that others are being attacked we need to fight back. Lives are at stake; yours or others. Make an assault. Pick up a branch and start swinging. Take careful aim and kick it in the head. Forget sticks and stones and yelling. FIGHT! I am all for the old addage that often the best defense is a good offense! Don’t become a victim and don’t let others become victimized. The Bible instructs us for just this situation; I Peter 5.8-9 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…,”
Don’t get me wrong and I hope you understand I am not advocating senseless violence or cruelty to animals. However, when or if an animal attacks or has shown itself to be an imminent threat to human life I am going to exercise my God-given dominion and do what has to be done to protect human life. Even Tim Treadwell, despite his love for the great bears of Alaska, in his last moments of life while being mauled and eaten, begged his girlfriend to hit the bear. I am guessing that in that moment if he could have wished a slug loaded, 12 gauge shotgun into the hands of his girlfriend rather than a frying pan he would have. The day may have turned out much differently.
When attacked by the mountain lions and MGA’s in life you have to fight. Fight for yourself, your family, for others. Put on the armor of God. Pray. After all, this is a life and death struggle. This isn’t simply a matter of animal behavior, wildlife biology, or backcountry commonsense in the natural sense. This is biblical and very real in the spiritual sense. This is real life. Lives depend on you. Eternity hangs in the balance.