I left the Metroplex one Friday morning early for what had become an almost annual ascent to the seeing and skiing of Colorado—this one with my son-in-law and oldest granddaughter. Just north of Santa Fe we stopped for gas and to pick up sandwiches for the road. With Jonathan inside ordering supper and Evie asleep in her car seat, all I had to do was pump the gas. I whiled those few moments away glancing around at a myriad of features distinct to outlying Santa Fe, including architecture, people, landscape, and fauna. It’s the last one that surprisingly held my attention: a raven perched atop the market’s sign, staring, as if transfixed, right at me. I immediately apologized to the bird, silently but sincerely, for every time I had referred to a big grackle as perhaps being a raven. This was not just a black bird. It was the size of a chicken, somewhat frayed, entirely ebony, and looked like a convenience-store-appropriate gargoyle. Four-year-old Evie broke the spell when she alerted me through the truck’s closed windows that she needed to go to the restroom, right now.

I think we as believers often grossly underestimate our adversaries in both their persistence and their magnitude. At the same time, I am certain that when we do catch a glimpse of even one of them, we can become either overwhelmed or paralyzed by its presumed power. I don’t simply mean the personal antagonist(s) of everything good. He is and they are real enough and trouble enough. Rather, in the sense of James 1, I mean the distractions and desires which come to hold our gaze, even while the things actually most important can be either clearly seen—just on the other side of the window—or equally clearly not seen—at least not before journey’s end.

May we always return to our lives freshly reminded that far more important than impressive present diversions or mounting future fears are the person God puts in front of us (with a need “right now”) and the purpose toward which He is ultimately directing us—regardless of the raven ominously vying for our eye.