My deep sleep was interrupted before five o'clock this morning by a barking dog. One of my own. Pepper was somewhere in the house barking so that someone would get up and let him out of the house. There were only two of us in the house, and apparently neither of us wanted to be the "someone" to get up and let Pepper out. He barked. Neither of us moved. He barked louder. She flinched and finally got up to let Pepper out.
Although I won the battle of playing opossum, it didn't matter. The damage was done. Deep sleep didn't return. Just as I managed to slip away into the wonderful world of almost sleep, Pepper started barking again. This time he was outside wanting back in. I let out a heavy chunk of disgruntled sighs and mumbling and went to the door to let Pepper back in. He wasn't there.
I went to another outside door. No Pepper. No barking. No glasses! I couldn't see a thing beyond fifteen feet, especially in the dark, but I could hear something in the leaves. "Pepper!" I whisper-shouted. Nothing. "PEPPER!" I shouted without the whisper. Still nothing.
I returned to the bedroom for my glasses, huffing and puffing the whole way. No need to share the exact thoughts that were parading through my mind. Use your imagination. I put on my glasses, turned on all the outside lights, and couldn't find Pepper anywhere. I called off the search and destroy...I mean, search and rescue mission, turned out the lights, and crawled back in bed.
My mumbling and grumbling eventually silenced and my body began to relax. Sleep began to reenter my life when I heard Pepper barking again. It was faint. Distant. But just enough to annoy the sleep out of someone. I put my head under the pillow. Unfortunately, it is one of those pillows that doesn't smush. It just teeters. I could still hear the faint barking of my former precious-pup-now-turned-nemesis.
My resolve to sleep won out after a few minutes. A few minutes later, I was awakened again to the tune of Sargeant Pepper's lonely, one-dog barking band. I repeated the huffing and disgruntled behavior of my earlier antics, turned on the outside lights, and there he was -- Pepper. Ten feet away. Standing six inches behind a busy armadillo. All along, Pepper had been barking and growling at an armored intruder.
Apparently, Pepper had spent nearly an hour pestering this opossum-on-the-half-shell. I watched as Pepper growled, barked, scratched, gnawed and maintained hot pursuit of the armadillo all over the yard. The armadillo wasn't impressed, nor was he (she? I didn't ask) deterred from the task at hand. The armadillo kept his nose and claws to the ground and adapted Dory's attitude from "Finding Nemo" --- "Just keep digging. Just keep digging."
I finally persuaded Pepper to call off the dogs and come inside. He looked up at me as if he deserved a treat or a commendation. He went back to bed disappointed. I went back to bed ten minutes before my alarm went off.
Pepper's harrassment of the armadillo reminds me of the devil. The devil does not want followers of Jesus to follow Jesus. So, he tags along to distract, deter, and strike fear into the believer to keep the believer from wholehearted devotion to Jesus.
While satan definitely has a bark and a bite, the believer is protected by the armor of God. The devil can't defeat the believer. The believer can defeat himself by allowing fear and apathy to enter his heart. But the devil holds no power over the blood-bought saints of God. Like Pepper, the devil can follow, fuss, and try to frighten us all he wants, but the only ability he has to be successful is that which we allow.
If you have personally invited Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, you have more than salvation. You have protection. Jesus doesn't just armor some. He armors all.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).