Together we Stand

I was reminded recently of a talk I heard some years back about lions and their prey.

Our speaker had lived many years in Tanzania, Africa, and had witnessed Maasai herders constructing enclosures for their livestock from interwoven limbs and branches. At dusk, cattle would be herded together into these bomas for the night. For the herders knew that with darkness came the lions, drawn to the pungent smell of potential prey.

Wary of climbing over the vertical posts, the lion and lionesses would circle the base of the boma in search of an opening. If unable to gain entry this way, the cunning hunters would employ another strategy to make the cattle themselves break down the enclosure.

Positioned at opposite ends of the structure, the great cats would pace. When the herd became sufficiently agitated, the lion would roar. Terrified, the cattle would stampede, breaking down the boma walls and charging straight into the waiting jaws of the lionesses. Ingenious!

After hearing this story, I couldn’t help but think about how many times I have instinctively bolted from fear, or reacted out of sheer panic when life appeared dark or God’s ways seemed incongruous. My tendency has always been to isolate myself when I feel threatened; my closest friends know that when I feel afraid or overwhelmed, I drop off the radar.

Like the cattle in the boma, though, my well-being and protection is found in standing firm and staying connected. It just takes more courage.

When I am in my right mind, I remember that my true enemy is not of flesh and blood, and fear is his greatest weapon. With the help of others, I can better resist fear through faith, taking up weapons of another world; weapons powerful enough to destroy strongholds and conquer kingdoms. Weapons like humility, love, prayer, joy, faith, forgiveness.

I am grateful for my friends who love me enough to push their way in to my self-imposed exiles and call me back to community when I bolt. Like exercising core muscles that stabilize instead of the larger muscle groups that propel, I’m getting better at staying still and letting others stand with me.

And standing firm is often just enough to make it through safely until dawn breaks and the darkness flees.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I Peter 5:8-9

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

Tamara Carpenter

December 5, 2016

 

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