They had planned it to the utmost detail. They brought ropes, flashlights, paint rollers, and, of course, the red and white paint. Though they were excited, they were cautious, for their practical joke could endanger their lives if they were not careful. It isn’t easy to repel down a mountain in the middle of the night, and since the moon found a hiding place behind the clouds, they had to rely on flashlights to avoid any perilous situations.
But this didn’t daunt them, and before morning, there was a huge Swiss flag painted on the face of the Salève. Once these seminary students from abroad found themselves in the safety of their rooms at the foot of the Salève, they could only chuckle at the thought of what the next morning would bring.
Things didn’t turn out exactly as they had planned, however. Dismayed French authorities were determined to find the culprits. Although Switzerland borders France in this region, and both countries share an amicable relationship, having a Swiss flag painted on a French mountain was not well perceived!
Eventually the guilty party was found, and it was with knocking knees that they not only faced the authorities of the seminary, but the local French authorities as well. They hadn’t considered the possible ramifications of their actions, and rumour quickly spread that the culprits had been expelled from France, never to return. As a result, they were forced to abandon their studies at the seminary, and no other seminary would be likely to accept such infamous students.
It didn’t take long for the Swiss flag on the face of the Salève to receive a white coat of paint, and this was the only thing left to remind these students of the fact that they hadn’t considered the probable fear they would be facing for their actions if they were ever caught.
The same is true for each one of us. We fear the devil and his power to ruin our eternity, yet we have forgotten that he is a defeated foe whose only weapons are restricted to temptations and intimidations. When Jesus defeated him on the cross, all of the bite went out of his bark!
Our problem is that we tend to listen to his insinuations, and this leads us to trouble! It is true that the evil one knows us well and attacks us in our most vulnerable spots: “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15 NIV)
We also tend to forget that help is available when we are tempted. Most often we face it with our own strength, and we lose every time! Instead, we could be depending upon the One who can guarantee victory, the One who suffered severe temptation, but without sin. This is why Jesus is our guarantee to victory! “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:15-16 NIV)
If we begin truly fearing the Lord (A fear of hurting Him through our actions, a fear of living eternity without His presence), we will reject temptation as irrelevant, for Jesus’ unfailing love is much more beautiful to behold than any of the desires of this world.
“You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry?” (Ps 76:7 NIV)
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:4-5 NIV)
Who do you fear?
(To access the entire “Fear Factor Considerations” devotional series, please click here.“