In my prayer time this morning, I was thinking about two passages of scripture as they relate to some people and circumstances in my life.
1 Peter 5:8-11 (ESV)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 18:12-14 (ESV)
12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
Then I remembered this popular YouTube video, "Battle at Kruger" and could not help noticing how nicely the scriptures are illustrated by the scene--a battle between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo, and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Look at how the lions are laying in wait as the herd approaches. They are fearless and patient...entirely confident that someone in the herd will make a mistake. LUNCH!!! And the lions were not disappointed at first!
The mistake? Isolation. Lack of protection. The little one was walking too close to the front of the herd with his mama. Perhaps the large male leading the way was the father (who was a bit cocky and arrogant because of his great size). DISASTER! Lunch was basically delivered to the lion pride--though they had to wrestle it away from a pair of crocodiles.
But then something astounding happens. Strengthened by the herd, which pulled in tight together so as to ensure the most brute force and protection, the leader of the water buffalo posse returns to confront the lions and rescue the baby.
What I found most moving and significant, however, was not only the courageousness of the water buffalo leader, or the power of the herd. It was the way the baby was quickly assumed back into the herd. Everyone was doing their job, and the baby was completely enfolded in the bosom of his extended family--sheltered and comforted. Safe.
I think what happened to the little water buffalo often happens to us. Either because we are walking behind careless leaders, because we are too naive and inexperienced to know better, or because of our own foolishness or pride...we get isolated, separated from the herd. We are easy prey for the devil who is always prowling like a lion and looking for someone to devour.
Maybe we have been strong in other circumstances and withstood the assault. There are many possible ways and reasons why we become separated from the herd. It does not matter. The devil does not care. He is an opportunist. So...take care. Be watchful. Take a look around. Are you where you should be, tight inside the herd and following behind a wise and courageous leader?
But what if you become separated? I cannot help wondering how it was that the little water buffalo survived an entire pride of lions plus two crocodiles. The one thing I noticed was that he did not thrash and flail. Perhaps he was too terrified. Who knows? But there is at least a chance that his instincts were to stay calm and simply cry out for help until his rescuers came--the water buffalo posse.
Maybe that is what we're supposed to do when we find ourselves in trouble and separated from the herd. Keep crying out. Stay calm. Remain confident that we are valuable enough to our shepherd that he will come after us and restore us to the fold.