Sounding the Alarm
“It doesn’t even seem sporting. I pretty much sit on the porch and pick the deer off from there. It’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel,” he said. I remember the previous owner’s words to us from across the table at our house closing. I sat in silence, staring across our pasture while we were quarantined with Covid, and wondered where all those deer were.
Having grown up hunting with my Daddy since I was small, I was intrigued by the prospect of having deer showing up literally in my front yard. We’ve been at the farm for almost eight months now, and you know how many deer we’ve seen? Exactly one.
We were also told that we would probably sit on our porch at night and hear coyotes running down along our fence line, about a hundred yards from the house. This didn’t sound as exciting to Daniel and me, and thankfully, we haven’t had that problem.
What is it about our little homestead that seems to be protected from coyotes and avoided by the local deer habitat? The answer might surprise you. You see, our neighbors keep a couple of horses and a donkey in our back pasture. After some research, we’ve discovered that donkeys are livestock babysitters. They keep away unwanted predators that might be prowling around, looking to drag away a weak animal. They can be fierce protectors when they feel threatened, kicking and braying loudly to scare away or trample unwanted intruders. Maybe that’s why we haven’t seen any deer.
You may be wondering what deer, coyotes, and donkeys have to do with your marriage adventure. Okay, I’ll get to the point. Did you know that your marriage is being hunted down by a predator? Whether you prefer the idea of a hunter waiting patiently to shoot his next deer for dinner, or a coyote sneaking around looking for livestock to share with the rest of the pack, it’s a great picture of your enemy, the devil circling your marriage relationship. 1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
Your marriage poses a threat to the devil because you can have a huge impact on the kingdom of God. So, why wouldn’t he have plans to attack you and tear you apart? The problem is, we don’t often see him coming, and he slips in through the back door and chips away at the health of our relationship. Sometimes we don’t even notice until it’s too late. But, if we are aware that we’re a target, we can put up hedges and fortify our homestead to protect our relationship.
So what are some things DO’s and DON’TS that may help us protect against the enemy’s schemes? This week, consider some DON’TS, and next week we’ll pitch you a list of DO’S.
● DON’T stop pursuing each other. Life gets busy, and we relax in our pursuit of our spouse. Be intentional about spending time together. Choose each other over every other person (parents, friends, co-workers, boss, even children) and every other thing in the world (job, hobbies, phone). If we make this pursuit a priority, there are fewer opportunities for our eyes to get fixed on other people.
● DON’T assume you know each other’s hearts. As selfish humans, we don’t usually assume the best about other people. Satan will set your spouse up as your enemy if you aren’t careful to know and understand their heart and motives. Because of this, you must communicate about all things, both big and small. Keep seeking to know your spouse’s heart.
● DON’T keep your temptations and sins private. No one is perfect. Everyone struggles with thoughts that are inappropriate or harmful to the relationship. And sometimes, those thoughts cross lines into sinful actions. That’s why it’s so important to talk about struggles and provide accountability for each other. Even be willing to ask your spouse the questions you don’t want to know the answers to. Don’t think you are protecting your spouse by hiding your indiscretions. The enemy does his best work in the hidden sins committed in the dark.
● DON’T let your guard down… EVER. You must be proactive about filtering what you allow into your life and marriage. TV, movies, music, news sources, podcasts, social media, even friendships can all expose subtle entry points for a negative attitude and heart toward your spouse. It’s also imperative that you set up clear and tangible boundaries about friendships and interactions with the opposite sex and often revisit them.
● DON’T wait to seek counseling if you need it. One of the most effective lies the enemy uses is, “We’re not that bad.” Complacency and pride are roadblocks to health. The longer you allow issues to go unresolved, the greater risk you run that you become lukewarm, then cold, and eventually bitter toward your spouse. Don’t wait until it’s too late to seek an objective, Godly voice to help you get back on track.
Sometimes we are taken off guard when we realize our marriage is under fire. No matter how good of a relationship you have, we hope to put you on notice and sound the alarm. You are in a relationship that God has ordained and was His idea. The world and the ruler of this world system WILL come against you. Don’t be shocked, but be aware and stand guard. You may even want to get a donkey!
Protecting the Adventure,
Don’ts list from The Marriage Adventure: Discovering Mission for Your Marriage by Daniel and Bonnie Hoover