Do Not Feed the Alligators

During a recent trip to Florida, I was reminded that it has a great deal of inland water. There are lakes and canals and ponds and inter-coastal waterways and the like. I was also reminded that there are a fair number of alligators who much enjoy this warm, wet environment, and it is not uncommon to see them in and around these bodies of water. Thank heaven, we experienced the uncommon and did NOT see any! I learned a few things about gators that should make me relax about seeing them, but no.

Alligators are apparently afraid of humans, so if you are swimming in a big group, you are generally fine. Solo swimming, however, could lead to the big reptiles thinking they have hit the jackpot for their supper. On land, even though gators can move pretty quickly, they are said to not have endurance on their side, so they tire quickly. No one could tell me exactly how short the distance is before they run out of gas, so I see no reason to chance it. Additionally, humans on land are thought to be too big of a prey for the gators to pursue – unless they feel threatened – or are mating – or are guarding a nest…

The one thing that I hear consistently is not to feed the alligators. There are so many questions running through my head about the necessity of signs posted about this, that they could comprise a good 15-minute set for a comedian. Besides the logical reasons not to feed: “you might get eaten, or donate an arm to the dinner menu”, there is another issue to consider. Because alligators are generally afraid of humans and retreat when they see us, when they get fed, they become less afraid of us and more willing to approach. Alligators cannot be domesticated, and cannot be trusted. If they get used to being near humans and no longer fear us, any random encounter with one could go poorly for the land-dweller(s). I also would think that if they associated people with acquiring food, and a gator with high expectations approached someone to no avail, perhaps the gator would settle for said person as a fair substitution.

This reminds me of the enemy of God and all who follow Him, satan or the devil. In scripture, we are told that satan began as an angel named Lucifer, or “morning star.” He became prideful in his place with God and then tried to usurp God’s authority, so he was banished to the earth (Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12). He became known as satan or the devil, and will eventually end up in hell/ the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41). The enemy is on the prowl to take as many away from God as he can before his fate is sealed. Peter warns followers of Jesus in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Just like signs in Florida warn us not to feed the alligators, my mom has always said that when we invite temptation and sin into our lives, we are bringing the devil near to us. We are feeding him. And then he gets used to hanging around us, and we him. We begin to sacrifice the abundant life that God offers when we are filled with Him, and trade it for the lies of temporary satisfaction and eternal punishment that satan brings. John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

James, Jesus’s brother, admonishes us to not feed the proverbial alligator, satan, but rather to cling to the Father in thought, word and deed: “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 I don’t know about you, but I like it best when the alligator is fearful of me and is high-tailing it in the other direction. I want satan to do the same. He cannot be domesticated and will continue to pursue and shame God’s followers day and night (Rev 12:10). Put him in his place and grab hold of the One who loves us and will give us full life, not seek to take it from us.

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