Monday, July 12, 2010

Wise as a serpent...

Matthew 10:16 warns: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." I used to think those were opposites; serpents and doves. One is a predator and the other is prey. But that doesn't mean the prey need be stupid. I told you in a previous post about our resident doves moving house to keep away from the neighbors stalking cat. These are no dumb birds. Our neighborhood is filled with cats and owls, and we even saw a falcon in our front yard recently. But the doves have been here for a number of years, harmlessly yet wisely avoiding being prey.

I have been thinking this today, because I was targeted as the 'prey' by an internet Art Scammer recently. It never 'felt right' from the very beginning of the interaction, but I was willing to give the person the benefit of my doubt until I was sure she was not legitimate. I was not raised to be a suspicious person. I was raised by two people who are trusting of everyone, always expecting the best of them, and usually getting it. But, for some reason, I have a somewhat suspicious nature anyway. I do not automatically trust people; I expect them to earn my trust. I guess I have always seen the wolves that we have been sent out amidst. And I often feel that we sheep are quite outnumbered by them! The predatory wolves who would 'have at' we sheep are not an endangered species.

When I was a child, we learned a weekly Bible verse, which we had to say in front of the congregation on Sunday. One that stuck with me as much as any other was 1 Peter 5:8: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." The Bible told the truth, I knew, so that verse made a huge impact on me! It scared me to death to think there was a roaring lion out there, in disguise of course, wanting to eat me alive! Nightmare stuff, to be sure.

So when the lion comes knocking at my very studio door, it is hard for me to react as an innocent dove. I want to lash out. At the very least, I should use my little dove beak or my tiny sheep hooves to peck it's eyes out, shouldn't I? But I find that I really do not have the nature (nor the resources) to do that. I have been wise as a serpent; the scammer did not get anything from me. And yet I am as harmless, even as defenseless, as our doves. The beak and the hooves are not as mighty as one would like. There is nothing for me to do but to warn others. And to know that revenge and justice in this case is not in my hands.

I am grateful for the warnings, though, Matthew, Luke, and Peter. I've got my eyes on those wolves; my very wary snake eyes!

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