All of them seemed ready to show off that day.
The morning was cool, that one break in the summer heat and the chance to enjoy outside without dehydration, heat stroke, headaches and fatigue. So, we packed a picnic lunch and visited the zoo, even zipping up jackets at the start of the day because of the chill in the air.
On a cool enough day, the animals in the various habitats are willing to leave dens and the burrows under the earth that protect them from the sun.
The prairie dogs bobbed up and down. The giraffe paced back and forth, his nose barely missing the walkway for zoo onlookers where we stood. The elephant tossed his hay and the baby monkey swung on ropes and tumbled all over his ever-patient parents.
But the lions.
Always the lions sleep on the highest rock in their habitat, hot day or cool day or whatever. They lounge and stretch and only occasionally blink their eyes open long enough to yawn and maybe reposition their mass to ease into a more comfortable position or soak up more sun.
Years and years we’ve been visiting this zoo, and I’ve never seen the lion climb down from the rock, never seen him roar or shake his mane. We’ve never seen the female lion dash across her habitat, stalk imagined prey, or be alert for danger.
Still we marvel at their sheer magnificence, the mightiness of their demeanor. How their muscles still display power even when they look just as lazy as my two house cats asleep on the arms of our sofa or the foot of my bed.
And we take pictures them, of course. I have just about six years of pictures of these lions resting on the rock.
I’d think perhaps that their lack of care or nonchalant attitude is simply the fate of the captive lion. They feel safe in their man-designed haven, provided for and comfortable.
But today I read in Isaiah:
When a strong young lion stands growling over a sheep it has killed, it is not frightened by the shouts and noise of a whole crowd of shepherds. In the same way, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will come down and fight on Mount Zion (Isaiah 31:4 NLT).
And this I read in the Daily Bread devotional, as the writer describes lions lounging in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve:
Their serene appearance is deceiving…the reason they can be so relaxed is that they have nothing to fear–no shortage of food and no natural predators. The lions look lazy and listless, but they are the strongest and fiercest of all. One roar sends all the other animals running for their lives. (Our Daily Bread, JAL).
They have nothing to fear.
That’s why the lions don’t stay alert and awake on that rocky cliff. It’s why they don’t take shifts of standing guard or pace around their zoo enclave with nervous awareness.
It’s why the same beasts out in Kenya feel free to lounge and linger as they drink from a stream and slowly stride through the grass rather than run, stalk, or pounce.
Isaiah writes that this is true of our God, this Mighty Warrior as He leads the armies of heaven, undaunted by opposition.
Oh, but how I tremble and pace with anxious uncertainty! How one phone call or email, one personal confrontation, one malicious bump into my carefully planned schedule, one interruption, one comment by another can leave me feeling so shaken and, yes, afraid.
And why, I wonder at times, am I reacting this way? Isn’t this in God’s hands? Even the decisions of others, the way they seem to hold power over my future or the ability to hold sway in my life, is just a ruse.
And why, I wonder, does it seem like God is lounging on the mountain rather than roaring and shaking His mane and displaying His might? Why can I be in a nervous tizzy of reactionary emotion and He’s not flustered or bothered? He’s calmly in control.
It’s because our God has no reason to fear. No need to tremble at the noisy clamoring of our enemies, our frustrations, our annoyances, our worries and obstacles.
And it is our Lion of Judah, our all-powerful God, who gave Isaiah “a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy…don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear, He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe” (Isaiah 8:11-14).
We aren’t to worry because we fear only God–no other crisis or threat or shaking of our life–and we know He keeps us safe.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King