Several years back, many of us gathered as a family for fun and festivities at a local zoo. Excitement rang through the air as we walked to the observation deck above the encampment of the silverback gorilla, watching him mill around below us.
Some were amazed at how small he looked from our viewpoint. Others were captivated by how his silver coat glistened in the sunlight. Still, others noticed how unbothered he was by our intrusion into his world. Then something caught the animal’s attention, and he moved to the viewing glass on the lower deck.
Gathering the children and our belongings, we hurried toward the new location to get a better glance at the creature that had fascinated us.
Rowen, 3 years old and the youngest of the group, pushed through the adults to find a place beside the glass. Suddenly what had been very small and far away was now very large and close up. Our perspective of the silverback changed with the location.
From a distance, the creature appeared harmless; now separated only by a few feet and a layer of glass, the potential danger became evident. His immense head and teeth measured well against the strength seen in his massive arms and hands. The muscles that lined his back and legs showed a power we had not seen from above. What once looked cute and harmless was now immeasurable and frightening.
Rowen, who had been the most excited to view this creature up close, now squatted beside the glass, only looking with his peripheral vision.
The trembling image of my grandson soon caught the eye of his mother, who made her way to his side. Reaching her hand toward him, she said, “I’ve got you, buddy,” as she led him through the crowd and toward the higher ground. I watched as he regained his confidence in her protection. He felt the safety of her presence.
Most days, I find my safety in the presence of the One who created me. Nonetheless, I often find myself on the observation deck of life when persuasion calls my name. Temptation always appears enjoyable and safe from a distance. Then, like the silverback, it moves, and I chase after it to catch a better glimpse, only finding myself closer than I should be.
Did you know Satan uses temptation to play into our sinful nature, and eventually, it can separate us from God? Temptation can be alluring, yet spiritual death becomes apparent because we often step too close to the looking glass. We all chase after the desires of the flesh. The Apostles Paul admitted his spirit was willing to do good, but his flesh was weak (Romans 7).
In life, there are times when each of us will feel like 3-year-old Rowen. Desire often becomes stronger than we once believed, leading us to the captivity of darkness. There are no safe observation decks when it comes to temptation. Only the presence of God and resisting temptation can cause Satan to flee our company. (James 4:7).
That day Rowen could have stayed in fear; however, he heard his mother’s voice and reached for her hand. Wherever we are in life, God is calling our name. It is our choice to reach for His hand, regaining our confidence in His salvation. We must let go of what appears harmless, trusting our lives to God’s care, for His greatest desire is to move us to higher ground.
Psalm 91:1-2 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Cheryl Mixon-Cruce is Pastor of Ochlockonee Bay United Methodist Church and Sopchoppy United Methodist Church.