by Wendy Coy
“The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Ogden Nash, “The Panther”
I wanted to worship. I wanted to sing to the King of Angel Armies, the One who wins battles for us. Instead, Ogden Nash’s panther was inside my head, mocking me. To my knowledge, Ogden Nash was not a curator of Biblical knowledge. “Go away!” I screamed (silently) at the disturbing phrase rolling endlessly in my head.
“Don’t anther… don’t anther… don’t anther!” the voice chortled gleefully, ignoring my commands.
“Why won’t this go away?” I asked no one in particular, grinding my teeth in frustration. Worship seemed out of the question.
“Don’t An-ther… don’t AN-ther… don’t ANTHER!”
Wait. There might be something to learn here. I bludgeoned through the noise in my head until I could find the memory.
Since we signed papers for a new faith venture, we’d been body-slammed by a swarm of mosquitoes: exhaustion, viruses, crankiness, allergies, insomnia, arguments, email fails, tax surprises, software glitches, browser nonsense. The toothpaste-tube pettiness of life hooked us, kicked us and left us curled on the floor.
Our faith declaration seriously rattled something or someone, threatening the status quo. The stalking panther crouched and readied his spring.
Could Ogden Nash have something to say about this assault? Apparently so, as God connected the dots between the King of Angel Armies, the Lord’s battle-ready warriors… and Ogden’s panther.
“Don’t ANTHER!” Ah, there it is. The answer in the poem, with a Scripture not far behind. My internal song changed: “The battle is the Lord’s!” (1 Samuel 17:47)
His, not mine. God’s armies standing behind my flailing arms, their swords drawn and weapons ready. I could engage, scream at the Satan-panther, and grab my sword. I could ignore, run, hide, get out of the way. Or I could march in a different direction, deftly avoiding the now obvious attack, striding firmly toward what the Lord had directed, and watch the armies of God take all the captives.
Only one thing I knew: to fight at the Satan-panther’s level assured loss.
“I will deFEAT you,” the panther erupted. Wide-eyed, I sheathed my sword, kept the panther in my peripheral vision, and kept walking. “Don’t anther…don’t ANther… don’t ANTHER,” I sang, forging ahead with the Lord’s vision.