Last week was the start of “meteorological fall”. This season includes September, October, and November. This means, for most people, it is about to start cooling down. When I lived in Kansas, this cooling of the weather for a lot of people meant one thing: hunting season! It’s a big deal. I even know of people choosing their wedding date so that it didn’t interfere with the groom’s ability to spend his weekend in a deer blind.

Although my personal experience with hunting is limited, I am well acquainted with the fashionable hunting attire, CAMOUFLAGE!

Since I saw it everywhere in my hometown, I thought it was hilarious when Brad Paisley wrote a whole song about it. One line went like this: “You can blend in in the country. You can stand out in the fashion world, be invisible to a white tail, irresistible to a redneck girl.”

As funny as the song is, it is fascinating to me how our eyes have such difficulty seeing the difference between a guy wearing some Mossy Oak™ and the background of a forest. This ability for the hunters to blend in is such an advantage for them, allowing them to get closer to the prey than without it. Of course, we didn’t come up with this great idea. Animals have been using camouflage to help with hunting for a very long time.

Most of the time when talking about camouflage in animals, you think of prey hiding from their predators, but, just like the human hunters, predators use it too. Over the years, evolution through natural selection has changed the appearance of these animals. Those that are able to blend into their environment are able to get closer to their prey. Those that get closer to the prey are more likely to be successful. Those that catch prey are more likely to eat and stay alive. Thus, the genetic line of those with the best camouflaging has been the one to continue through the years.

Animals use a number of different strategies in their camouflage, but predators use two main strategies. The first is color matching. Color matching is one of the most basic ways animals camouflage themselves. They’re able to blend in simply by matching the color of their surroundings, like this lion in the tall grass.

The other common strategy for predators is “disruptive coloration”. This technique is when an animal uses more than one color to help them blend in with their surroundings. Spots, stripes, and asymmetrical shapes on their bodies can help break up the outline of the animal.

Leopard print may seem gaudy and stand out on clothing, but this unique pattern is EXTREMELY effective at hiding snow leopards in their rocky terrain. They are one of the most elusive animals for scientists and nature lovers to photograph. See if you can find the leopard in this picture.

(For those who can’t find it, look just below the biggest patch of snow)

As humans, we see ourselves at the top of the food chain, the top predator. As such, we don’t have to think too much about looking out for camouflaged predators lurking around. Unfortunately, there is one predator who is stalking us constantly and is VERY good at camouflage, Satan. This Sunday’s gospel reading shows us that.

In the gospel, Jesus is walking with his disciples and telling them how He must suffer. John pulled him aside and rebuked Him which caused Jesus to say, “Get behind me Satan.” (Mark 8:27-35) This is John, the beloved disciple, the one who is at the foot of the cross when all others had abandoned Jesus. That is who Jesus is calling Satan. This shows that Satan can twist even the best of intentions in even the best of people. Satan is very good at disguising himself at something that sounds good. After all, the best lies have a grain of truth in them.

This week I encourage you to pray for your eyes to be opened. Ask God to show you where Satan is hiding in your life. What people or ideas are you allowing into your life because you are blind to how they have camouflaged themselves as something good? Do not let Satan sneak up on you like the camouflaged lion or snow leopard. Tell him to get behind you just like Jesus did in the gospel.

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