Encounter With a Cougar

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
"Class dismissed... have a good afternoon," Wayne Culling announced. Thirty middle school students sprang out of their seats and rushed for the door. School was over for the day, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
As a substitute teacher, Wayne liked the students, but sometimes they wore him down. He felt a need to relax and decided to go for a hike out in the timberland.
He drove to his home near Crescent Beach on the Olympic Peninsula. Pulling on his hiking boots, he headed for the beach. As he breathed in the fresh sea air and felt the ocean breeze, Wayne felt refreshed. After walking the length of the beach, he turned inland and hiked up a trail that led into the foothills.
Tall evergreens with wild undergrowth cover the rugged foothills that lie between the ocean and the mountains. He walked a long distance on the trail without seeing another hiker. But as he walked, a strange feeling began to come over him that he couldn't shake off. Then he heard a noise behind him that made him quickly turn around. He saw a tawny brown blur through the leaves of the undergrowth many yards away. Suddenly, he understood the reason for his strange feeling-an animal was following him! The glimpse of color looked like deerskin, but he knew it wasn't a deer... deer don't follow people. He walked faster, careful not to show any signs of panic. Although he hadn't seen the animal clearly, he concluded that he was being followed by a cougar!
In the wild, you see a cougar for only one of two reasons: Either you have surprised it or it is stalking you! In all the years he had lived in this remote area, he had never seen a cougar before.
You and I have an enemy who is stalking us: "Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, [walks] about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:88Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8)). Satan, our enemy, hates everything that is true and good and that comes from God. If you have not come to the Lord Jesus to have your sins washed away in the precious blood of Christ, this enemy is stalking you and will do everything in his power to keep you for himself.
Realizing that this dangerous animal could be stalking him, Wayne picked up a broken branch. He remembered that this makes a person look larger, and sometimes that is enough to scare a cougar away. Then he decided to whistle, to show the cougar that he had not panicked. Predators, such as cougars, sense that panic in its prey makes it easier to catch.
Turning around, he saw the cougar on the trail twenty-five yards behind him. "Go away!" yelled Wayne. Unfazed, the cat walked steadily towards him. Wayne quickly looked for a tree to climb. He couldn't remember if climbing a tree was recommended for escaping a cougar, but he didn't have a choice. Several sturdy fir trees were close by, but the lowest branches were far too high to grab. A few steps off the trail he saw a smaller hemlock tree, about thirty feet tall. It would have to do.
Wayne made a dash to the tree and climbed up the branches as fast as he could. He was halfway up when he looked down and saw the whiskered face and the golden green eyes of the cougar looking up at him. Seeing the slim, muscular body and the powerful legs of the cat, Wayne realized it could easily climb the tree if it wanted to pull him down. Wayne grabbed the branches above him and climbed higher until he reached the top of the tree. Hanging on tightly, he began to breathe a little easier. Then the unexpected happened! With his arms and legs wrapped around the slender tree, it wasn't strong enough to support his weight, and it began to bend over! It bent over so far that his entire body was upside down!
Wayne figured his end had come. If he let go of his hold on the tree, he would fall almost on top of the cougar. He was helpless and defenseless!
As he hung upside down, one by one all the things in his pockets began to fall out-first his wallet fell, then his coins fell, and then his keys fell. The keys made a clinking metallic sound as they hit a branch near the cougar's head. Something in that sound startled the animal, and it bounded off. Once Wayne felt it was safe, it didn't take him long to get out of the tree and get out of the area.
Satan doesn't give up as easily as the cougar did. He has different ways to keep people from getting saved. One is by feeding them lies. A favorite lie he will tell you is that you are not so bad that the Savior needed to die for you. The truth is that every member of the human race has sinned. The Bible says, "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:2323For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)), and every sinner still in their sins is on their way to a lost eternity-an eternity that will be spent away forever from the God who loved them and in the awful company of the devil and his angels. Not one person will ever enter into heaven with even one sin on them. Only the precious blood of the Lord Jesus shed on the cross can wash those sins away. Have you believed on the Lord Jesus to have your sins forgiven?
Another lie Satan uses is to tell you that if you do enough good deeds for others you can earn a place in heaven. The Bible tells us that we can never enter into heaven by good works: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:55Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)).
Are you trying to earn God's favor by good works? It can't be done. God is too rich to sell salvation, and we are just too poor to buy it. He does offer it to you as a gift: "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)). You can receive this salvation through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Once you believe on Him, your place in heaven is reserved and your soul's salvation will be out of the reach of Satan forever.