All day, Milly sits by the front door: a guard, a familiar face, a door-stopper. My daughter saw her in a shop and couldn’t resist buying her for us. She is so much like our old Milly, the cat who died after eighteen happy years in our home.

When I see this new one out of the corner of my eye, for a brief moment I think it’s the real Milly, so it’s not surprising that our current cat, Minty, was a little tentative when he first saw her. He’d followed me in from the letterbox and pulled up sharply at the sight of another cat. He peered at her from a short distance, backed off a few steps, moved forward again, and back; dancing around nervously. He was sparring in preparation for a contest, but never made contact. Eventually he bravely summoned the courage to go up close for the definitive smell test! I watched him turn away; he was clearly thinking, I’ll get no response from that cat.

Am I like that with the ‘enemies’ I find in my own environment? How often do I prepare myself to resist what I think might be opposition? Am I almost fooled by the expression in the eyes, or the realistic pose of the foe I fear?

I hate confrontation. I prefer to avoid it at all times, but when I know I’m in the right, I’ll do it, although I certainly don’t enjoy facing an adversary. Take a doctor, for instance. With all his training, knowledge and experience, plus the mighty pharmaceutical industry behind him, he might want to prescribe what I think is a dangerous medication. ‘It will help’, he says, but I know it will harm me. He lets me think about it. By the time I return, I’m afraid he’s going to ask me to prove my reasons for not taking the pills, or argue that I might suffer if I use another treatment. I’ve tried to prepare myself by going over imaginary conversations with him, thinking of all the ‘reasons’ I might face, and worry in case I forget my arguments and look foolish.

Some people find their doctors difficult, but I haven’t met many argumentative ones. When I tell them I don’t even want to try the tablets they’re recommending, they usually answer,  ‘You don’t have to take them’. So why do I worry? I’m confident in what I believe, but what bothers me is the thought that my peace may be violated. Like our cat Minty, I think there might be a power clash ahead, and want to avoid it, or at least be prepared.

There are other tussles we face in life; spiritual ones that are cunning and subtle. People tell us that we have a spiritual foe who’s out to get us. This enemy is real, but supposed to be clever enough to be everywhere at the same time, whispering in the ears of gullible people! I know I have the real omnipresent one on my side. His name is Jesus and he reminds me of all the benefits of his glorious power. He has no trouble with an angel who has to walk everywhere to get around on the earth. Jesus conquered all our enemies for us!

If we were to read the Bible like we read the Internet, we’d know these facts. A stuffed cat by the door can’t hurt a genuine cat.

As Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great nineteenth-century preacher said, ‘Half our fears arise from neglect of the Bible’. So let’s be sure to read it!

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