As I normally do, I arose early for some quiet time praying and reading this morning. I read the daily mass readings and meditated on those for some time. After that, I moved on to Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
While meditating on what I had just read I looked out my window on the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio. A soft light washed the hills as the sun had not yet come up over the Eastern horizon. Birds were singing and rabbits nibbled on grass in the cool of the morning. The shape of a large animal sitting in the yard caught my eye. At first I thought it was a whitetail deer sitting on its haunches looking up at me. I soon realized that the animal I was locking eyes with was an enormous lion.
My heart froze and I couldn't breath as the animal stared at me and I at it. My first thought was concern for my family. I jumped up and ran down the hall toward the bedroom where my sons sleep on their bunk beds. I again froze in the doorway. There in the middle of the bedroom was the lion with his back to me watching my sons sleep. I quietly backed away and ran downstairs to check on my wife. She was still sound asleep with our youngest boy snuggled up beside her and our daughter sound asleep in her crib. I screamed without even thinking when I saw the lion resting quietly on my side of the bed hungrily watching them all.
The nightmare ended but the reality set in.
"Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
Peter's description of the devil should scare the hell out of anyone (pun intended). Satan is described as actively looking for victims. He doesn't want to scare them, gnaw on them, or make them turn toward God. He wants to devour them. He wants to devour and destroy my family and our souls. He doesn't sleep. He is no respecter of persons. He pulls no punches and he'll take no prisoners. He is purposefully seeking to destroy me and those I love.
This is not fanciful imagery. The evidence surrounds us. How did he get into my yard? I have neglected my prayer life and have neglected to call upon the saints and angels to protect us. How did he get into my sons' bedroom? He has led me to believe that I'm more useful making money than rearing my children. How did get into my bedroom? He has made me question the Church's (God's) teachings on marriage and sexuality. (see Genesis - Did God really say that?).
If you need incentive to get back to a prayer life, the sacraments, family time, or just putting God and family first, imagine that lion at the door or in the house. Actually, don't imagine it, see it, it's happening now.
"So, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7