I remember the first time I hear a lion roar in real life... at a zoo. It was a terrifying sound.
It was even more terrifying when, after moving to a new neighborhood in Niamey, we heard that same sound from one of the surrounding houses. It isn't one of the sounds where you wonder, "What in the world was that?" The hairs on the back of my neck were definitely standing on edge. Sometimes, you can hear the lions at the zoo in town early in the morning or if it is close to feeding time.
Recently, Tim and the older kids went camping at a game park not far from Niamey - and heard lions and baboons fussing at each other every night - and this was taking place 5-600 meters from the campground. There were also certain treks they couldn't take without an armed guard accompanying them (for a small fee, of course).
Tim and the other men went on a night safari - and on the road just outside of the campground, they met a lionness. She arrogantly "flirted and toyed" with them, unintimidated and in no rush to move off the road and allow the men in their Landcruiser an opportunity to drive on past.
When we take our little ones to the zoo here, the lions are often pacing. And when they see our smaller children, we can watch them stalk up and down in their cages, their pacing and their eyes watching the kids as they run back and forth. One of our girls who noticed this called it "creepy."
I think there are 15 or so different verses in the Bible that refer to a roaring lion. But the most well known words to me come from 1 Peter 5: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world."
The enemy is just like those lions pacing and prowling, eyeing little girls with obvious desire... and I'm so thankful those lions are caged. So I ask myself, spiritually, is there some key for caging the raging lion that would seek to devour me? According to Peter, controlling my passions, desires, fears... staying always on guard, watching, surveying, preparing, fortifying... and then resisting by standing firm in the faith, particularly by recognizing that those roars seem louder and scarier in the shadows of suffering, but that is not unique to me and mine.