This is the title of a book by Peter Allison. He is an Aussie who, at 19, went to live in Africa on a game reserve, and many of his adventures are recounted in the book. He speaks of a Botswana truism: “only food runs”.
Safari guides regularly gave this advice to tourists: when a large predator notices you, don’t run. Stand still and they’ll probably lose interest in you. If you run, this marks you as prey, therefore edible and eminently chaseable. Also, they can run faster than you!
Allison’s own experience bears this out. Having left the camp to go to the toilet, he encountered a lion on the trail back to camp. Trembling with terror and tension (thankfully he had already voided his bladder), he stood still. The lion quietly ambled away, so then he ran back to camp.
Lions have a reputation to live up to – the king of the jungle, the fiercest animal in the world. “The Lion King” musical diminishes that somewhat. Real lions may look cute, and frolic like overgrown kittens, but we can never underestimate that staying alive, for them, is a serious business.
Even C S Lewis, in the Narnia stories, noted Lucy as saying that Aslan “is not a tame lion”.
In the Bible, lions are mainly portrayed as dangerous, to be avoided or dealt with. The training that gave David the skill and confidence to kill Goliath included killing both lions and bears while he was a shepherd, caring for the flock (1 Samuel chapter 17 verses 34 to 36). Obviously, he didn’t run away!
In the Old Testament, the faithful followers of God who await the appearance of the Messiah will be the instruments of God’s blessing and his judgments. Those who reject the Messiah will find the remnant as dangerous as a lion that captures its prey (Micah chapter 5 verse 8). The image of the lion mauling and mangling its prey is quite gruesome but true to life.
God himself expresses his anger with Israel’s rebellion by saying that like a lion he will devour them (Hosea chapter 13 verse 8).
If you are alive, you may have noticed that problems, obstacles, issues crop up that shatter your equilibrium and rob you of your peace. Sometimes these are so fierce and devastating that they may be likened to a fierce lion having a go at you.
Issues with relationships are among the hardest things we have to deal with. How easy would it be to simply walk away, never to encounter that person again, never to suffer the humiliation, insult, criticism that has hurt us so badly, or the sheer embarrassment when we realize we have hurt someone else. Sometimes we might feel as though a lion has mauled us.
Peter writes to us about the Christian life and at one point he tells us to be aware of our enemy, the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion, looking to see who he can devour (1 Peter chapter 5 verses 8,9). The imagery is meant to shock us into not only having an awareness of what’s going on when we encounter difficulties, but also to encourage us not to give in.
In other words, don’t run. Resist the devil, Peter says, and he will run away from you instead!
This thought is also echoed in James chapter 4 verse 7, where we are exhorted to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil, who will flee from us.
An even stronger image is given by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians chapter 6 verses 10 - 18). Paul describes putting on the armour of God, so that we can stand against the devil’s (lion’s) schemes, in similar terms to the armour worn by the Roman soldiers.
It is interesting that the full armour, for both the Christian and the Roman soldier, is purely defensive apart from the sword. It only protects the front of the body. In other words, if a soldier were to turn and run, they would be exposed and vulnerable to the enemy’s darts and weapons. Thus the only recourse in a battle is to stand, not run!
Stand – don’t run!
A past prime minister once said that “life wasn’t meant to be easy”. And yes we all know he may have been taken out of context by missing the last part of the George Bernard Shaw quote which goes on "…. my child, but take courage: it can be delightful."
It takes courage to stand in the face of obstacles and problems and I’m sure that we often think that it’s all too hard. But that’s exactly what our adversary the devil wants us to do – to give up, run away, accept defeat. Do we have the courage to stand with the Lord by our side, resist the devil, and find out how delightful life can be when we do?
Breaking news: Canberra pedestrians are being advised, in this upcoming magpie nesting season, to WALK, DON’T RUN in order to avoid being swooped!
Aira Chilcott B.Sc (Hons), M. Contemp Sci, Cert IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, Cert IV in Training and Evaluation, Grad Dip Ed., began her working life at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, investigating characteristics of cancer cells. Turning to teaching in the Christian school system provided opportunities to learn theology, more science, mission trips and explore the outdoors through bushwalking and other exploits. Now retired, Aira is a panellist for Young Writers and volunteers at a nature park. Aira is married to Bill and they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html