King of the Pride Lands

Keep Calm and Read a Psalm 104:21-23:

“The young lions roar after their prey,
And seek their food from God.
When the sun rises, they gather together
And lie down in their dens.
Man goes out to his work
And to his labor until the evening.”

While in Tanzania these past five weeks, I got to experience a safari to Serengeti National Park—one of the most famous of game parks in East Africa. The place to experience what you experience in the African section of the zoo—minus the fences (and annoying kids). Cruising at cheetah-speeds over dirt paths in a safari vehicle, you jolt this way and that for any sign of wildlife. At the very beginning of the day, we pulled up a steep ravine to a collection of wild safari vehicles (“Hey, this isn’t wildlife—these are American tourists! But they do look funny”). Behind the line of vehicles was what everyone was looking at: Mr. Lion himself, basking in the mid-morning heat in the shade of an acacia tree (I think). He was massive, with a mane surrounding his stoic face like the rays of the Serengeti sun (sounds like the name of a rock band—“Hey, we’re Serengeti Sun and we’re gonna rock this house!” Anyway…).

I was most impressed by Mr. Lion. He just looked at us. And then looked away. And then slept. We turned our engines off and just basked in his glory. Snapping pictures faster than you could say, “For Aslan!” He was unperturbed. Two lionesses lay behind him in the grove—I hope they weren’t both his wives (who does he think he is—Solomon?). After awhile, he got up, revealing his immensity in all its brilliance and sauntered down the hill at the speed of a king walking down the aisle for coronation. And that’s what he was—truly, the King. He found another co-King down at the bottom (I assume the husband of the other lioness—are these guys bros? Mufasa and Scar? At any rate…) and just lay down again. Man, if we were hunters, these guys would be as dead as—er, actually, even if we were hunters, judging by the size of his paw, I think the only dead ones would be the dumb poachers (Don’t do poaching, kids—it’s stupid).

 

And that’s the thing. These lions are in a wildlife reservation. Safe. What’s more—the lion has no natural predator. None. The cheetah’s too busy making cheesy sticks, and the leopard is too busy being turned into my mother’s purse. Not that they could stand up to the might of a lion anyway. They’re at the top of the food chain. And we human beings don’t really go after them much these days either—it took us a few millennia, but we finally learned they can eat our heads off (Too many failed circus acts). The lion has absolutely nothing to fear. No wonder Solomon says the righteous are as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).

I must say—the lion is one of the most majestic creatures on earth. But who gives the lions their fierceness, their boldness? Who gives Mr. Lion his power? The Psalmist says they seek their food…from God. The greatest animal on earth eats out of the hand of our God. Talk about power. Talk about sovereignty. And if God is that in control of every lion, He most certainly can control the lives of “man” who goes out to his work till evening. God is in charge. And He Himself is called a lion. But He’s also called “Our Father.” Indeed, His Son, Our Savior, is the Lion of the tribe of Judah—what a name (Rev. 5:5)!

We saw several cubs that day, and they were the same way—unafraid. Without a care in the world. And those of us who call God Father can be the same way—bold as a lion. They knew their parents were nearby—parents who could rip a 2×4 in their jaws. Why in the world would they be afraid of silly American tourists flashing cameras? Yes, why would they even think about trembling in the face of the nozzle of an evil poacher? Out of the corner of their eye they can see Daddy Lion about to claw this guy into Kenya. 

What a God we have. He’s at the top of the food chain. There is nothing above Him. Yes, there is also another lion who tries to thwart his plan and attack His children (1 Peter 5:8), but like another lion we saw that day, that enemy has a broken foot, crushed by the cross, and now there is little he can do but sit under an acacia tree, moaning, swatting at flies, and calling for the Real Lion’s children to come and play his silly games. Yet still he has power, and we must be wary, because we too easily fall for his tricks! But compared to the Head Lion, he is already defeated.

We have no reason to fear. Our Heavenly Father is King of the Pride Lands. He can never be thwarted or frustrated in His purposes. We can rest easy under an acacia tree and bask in His glory. Because we too, if we belong to Him, are at the top of the food chain. We are prince and princesses of Serengeti. “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13). And like Aslan, with one shake of His Mane, He can change the world.

-Matthew W., SC

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