I want you to look closely at this picture. This is, sickly as it might appear, a lion. In a cage. In a zoo.
And if you look really close you can see that it looks like he is sick - or has water running from his eyes - and he presents a pitiful picture.
He is as little like a lion as possible, but inside his heart there still beats something wild. The question I ask is this: What's inside you that God put there by design but somehow seems to have faded?
I often find myself frustrated with the so-called realities of life and what I believe God wants me to be doing. Sometimes I cannot reconcile the two. Jesus said no man can serve two masters, and it's true. It's either God, or the world; no middle ground.
However, while as Christians we are not to be conformed to the world (see my earlier post about the Squeeze) we still live here . And to live here takes money, and to make money you have to have a job - unless you steal or filch off others - and a job demands attention. But inside my heart there is a desire to chuck all that. Unfortunately this is where the tension comes in.
As the late Flip Wilson said in one of his comedy routines, "For this church to run it's gonna take money!" And what was the congregation's response? "Let it crawl, Rev! Let it crawl!
Now this is where the tension gets personal. I like to eat. I like to have lights on in the house. I like to drive a car and go on vacation every now and then. So I have to have money. So I have to have a job. But does that mean that my job and God's purpose are in opposition? Not necessarily. But sometimes, when the love has worn off, the frustration rises and the "over-it" factor comes in, it's really hard to remember those things.
Now part of the reason I'm complaining so much about that tension is that no one told me about it! I was not prepared for this midlife crap, and so now I am learning the game on the field, instead of in practice. So if you are a parent, prepare your children for real life. Not telling them how it really goes is abuse, plain and simple.
And in case you're curious, this is what a lion looks like on the savannah, where he belongs. Notice that there is a majesty about the beast, and there is an authority to him. He looks nothing like his fellow cat in the photo above.
It is said of Jesus that he preached with authority (Mt 7:29) and not as the scribes. And He is called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Did you ever wonder why? Could it be because he was being who he was supposed to be and not what other people wanted Him to be? It got Him crucified, but His resurrection proves the point.
Thomas Merton once wrote that a tree glorifies God by being a tree because it is being what God created it to be. My hope for all of us is that we would be just like that tree - or this lion - and be what God created us to be instead of what we think we have to be to get by.