In 2012, Melinda and I had the privilege of participating in a week long conference in East London, along the east cape of South Africa. We were there with a small team and our role was to do some filming of the conference and some teaching. I also led worship for a few sessions and did some coaching with their worship team. It was a great week.
At the end of the conference, we all went to a game reserve called, Mpongo. It was exciting to see all the wild animals in their natural habitat as we travelled by Jeep on a safari through the reserve.
Back at the main property, there were 2 five-month old lion cubs in a small “fenced,” but not exactly secured area. I was surprised they were so accessible. In fact, we were invited into their little area with nothing between us and them. Seriously - it was like a petting zoo, but with lions! Crazy!
Although they were only five months old, playful, and cute, they were still lions. The sheer power of what they held and what they would grow into was palpable.
I’m the cautious one of the bunch and I kept a bit of distance. Melinda and the other guys on our team were more adventurous. They got right in the middle of them. Melinda was filming them and even petting them. For me, not so much. I was happy to keep several feet back. I kept my distance but was intrigued and interested as Melinda interacted with these young but powerful cubs, so much so that I didn’t notice that one of the cubs had disappeared and she was playing with only one and not two. I didn’t notice until the second cub pushed me from behind.
Oh yes he did! I was completely taken off guard. I never saw him coming. He had circled behind me and got up on his hind legs and with his front paws pushed me in the middle of my back, causing me to fall forward.
My heart skipped a beat… possibly more than a few! I could barely breathe. I had just been pounced on by a lion — a 5 month old cub, but still… a LION! Even as young cubs, they are powerful and loaded with potential!
I was fine. There was no harm done. I didn’t even lose my balance, but the whole incident was briefly terrifying - until everyone else found the humor in it and began to laugh. Yeah it was funny, but not not to me, and not at that time.
Eventually I got up my nerve to get close enough to pet one of the cubs, and I lived to tell of the whole experience. It was memorable to say the least.
The Bible refers to the enemy as a roaring lion roaming about looking for someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8) Just as these cubs in the natural, his tactic is to isolate us, distract us, and catch us off guard.
God created us for community and it is in community that healing happens. When we are isolated, we are vulnerable. When we are distracted, we are susceptible to his attacks.
Stay connected. Be in community. True connection really does change everything!