The slender branch appeared in front of the windshield, moving left to right in a rhythmic fashion. The guide standing in the box of the 4×4 pickup was using it as a baton, conducting the driver to turn right. Traffic was light. That is not surprising since we were weaving and bouncing in the arid grasslands east of Niamey, Niger far beyond sign, signal and street. We were off-roading in search of giraffes.
The guide’s baton appeared again, moving side to side. From my vantage point riding ‘shot-gun’ I couldn’t tell whether the branch was moving left to right or right to left. I think the driver shared my confusion. He navigated the Toyota towards a jig but the guide wanted a jag. The baton became a gavel and wrapped the side of the hood calling the wayward driver back in line with proceedings.
Spotting The Tallest
As the pickup approach a small grove, a herd of towering giraffes appeared, like a mirage, only in reverse. These neck-long marvels glided from tree to tree with the elegance of a laced and plaited bride marching the aisle toward her beloved. This is a remarkable feat for an animal with legs longer than the full height of a man and an overall stature greater than fifteen feet.
Besides a graceful walk, the giraffe can gallop, reaching top speeds of 6o km/hr. Sprinting is the default defence against predators which means vigilance is paramount for protection. Although these spotted tree-toppers can lie down, they prefer to stand, even to sleep. You see when standing upright giraffes are ready for action, ready to go zero to sixty at the first shake of a lion’s mane, ready to respond and to survive.
Standing By Trusting
Believers can learn from the vigilance of giraffes. The journey of faith is not a carefree stroll in the park. We will face threats from enemies and from the evil one. There are lions, tigers and bears lurking and looking to prey on believers who are lax and lounging. Our defence is not to be frightened but to stand firm trusting in God’s protection. The Psalmist writes,
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. (Ps 20:7-8)
Forging Courage Together
Not only is there danger in being lax, there is danger in journeying alone. The wild knows there is safety in numbers. Being one with a herd helps. Are we surprised this axiom has application to our journey of faith? Being in solidarity and fellowship with the Body of Christ is part of being vigilant in our faith. Standing together equates to standing stronger, truer and safer. Paul writes this to believers facing threats,
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you… (Philippians 1:27-28)
How are you ‘standing firm in the one Spirit’? Do you need to up your game, gain your feet and strive together with other believers?