To read the part one of this story, click here.
It shouldn’t surprise me that even big cats don’t really want to be found. I’ve been the companion of domestic cats for much of my life and they, too, are good at hiding.
As we drove through groves of acacia and past acres of flat land covered in tall grass, our missionary friend remarked, “I mean, there could be a lion RIGHT OVER THERE,” pointing to the tall grass.
It was a bit chilling to think we could be that close and not know it.
I will break it to you now, we never did see a lion or a leopard or anything cat-like. (Also, there were no elephants in this park. We’ll have to save that for another trip to Africa.)
But this is not a disappointment. Not really. Because I didn’t go to Kenya to see a lion. It would have been icing on an already delicious cake. A bonus. Not the end goal.
It did, however, teach me something about God and that’s never a waste.
Before we left for Kenya, we started listening to The Chronicles of Narnia with our kids. We checked out the audio CDs from the library and started with The Magician’s Nephew. We finished that story on our way back from picking them after our trip to Kenya, with me reading the remaining chapters out loud.
Aslan being a lion has never seemed more appropriate. He is terrifying up close yet surprisingly gentle. (I would never test this with a real lion, of course.) There’s a bit of mystery surrounding him. In later books, he’s on the move and his movements are whispered among the Narnians, passed along like a secret message. There is evidence of his presence, even if he isn’t seen.
Like the lions in the game park.
Like God and his kingdom.
I don’t know if I have ever searched for God like I searched for lions and leopards in the park. I could spend an entire day with my eyes alert to His presence, searching for signs of Him. But I can’t say that’s the norm for me.
I could ask others if they’ve seen sign of him. I could tell them what I have seen and where.
Could I treat the most ordinary of days like a safari? I wonder what I would see here in this part of the world if I did.
Though our search for lions and other cats came up empty, a search for God never does. He tells his people to look for him with all of their hearts and they will find him.
It did feel a little bit like we had given up looking for the lions too early. A part of me always thinks, well, maybe if we just look a little bit longer. Maybe if we’d have come back the next day, we could have seen one.
But if we keep looking for God, if we ask others if they’ve seen Him, our search will not be empty. As we walk through this world, we can tell others not only that He exists but this is how we know: we’ve seen the evidence in our lives and in others’ lives.
A safari might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, although I hope that’s not the case. But seeking God is an every-day-for-a-lifetime experience, and it comes with the same sense of adventure that a safari does. You never know what might be around the next bend. Just when you’re about to fall asleep from exhaustion, you’ll see giraffe up close. Just when you’re discouraged, you’ll be awestruck with something beautiful.
And just like on a safari, you might need a guide, someone more experienced to help you see in unfamiliar territory. (I forgot to tell you about the safari guide who was zipping through the park at top speed and told his passengers they only had two minutes at Baboon Hill, overlooking the lake. He passed us in a cloud of dust later, and I thought how sad it would be to have to try to see the park at that speed.)
A trustworthy guide through life will not speed you through it but will take your time on your time. They will point you in directions you might not have known to go. And they will ensure that you don’t get lost in the wilderness. They will know the best places to stop and take a break. And they will know when it’s time to give up searching for the day.
This is how I will remember our safari.