RUDE AWAKENINGS

Tim Patterson - Executive Director/Treasurer

My son and I just returned from a mission trip to Tanzania and Kenya where we had the privilege of helping train youth pastors and minister to other leaders through the Word. It was a great time to interact with these passionate servants of God and to help them understand the importance of impacting the lives of adolescent orphans with the Gospel before they “age out” of their orphanages. The sad reality is that 90% or more will end up in a life of crime or prostitution if they are not adopted or come under the care of a local church. These young people live a most difficult life and without someone helping them to learn how to stand for Christ in a deplorably broken world, their future is simply unimaginable to most westerners.

BSCM Executive Director Tim Patterson trained youth pastors in Tanzania. (Photo courtesy Sue Hodnett)

As I was perusing through some of the pictures I took of the wildlife we encountered, one in particular caught my attention and reminded me of something I had read years ago. It was a picture of a mother giraffe and her baby as they were lumbering across the plains of the Serengeti. It was a beautiful scene that portrayed the gentle and compassionate side of the wilds of the Dark Continent. But that photograph also reminded me of how hard life can be on those perilous plains. It brought to mind how that young giraffe came into this world, and how painful a beginning it was and how that is not too dissimilar to our lives.

Sometimes life can be hard. In fact, we may experience events for which there seems to be no rational purpose and are difficult to understand. Events that are extremely painful, not only physically but also emotionally, will many times be ours to endure. In nature we find many accurate parallels to this fact of life. According to Gary Richmond in his book, A View From The Zoo*, the newborn giraffe goes through some difficult first hours. The first and most noticeable aspect of the birth of a giraffe is that the mother does not lie down when she is giving birth. This means that as soon as the baby passes through the birth canal and into the world, it must drop at least ten feet to the ground below. What a way to be welcomed! The statement of  “being dropped on your head as a baby”, takes on a whole new meaning.

 

If that rude awakening were not enough, then what happens next is truly startling. The mother will position herself directly over her calf and lower her head long enough to take a quick look. She waits for about a minute and then swings her

Giraffes foraging for food. (Photo courtesy Sue Hodnett)

pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, sending it sprawling head over hooves. The message she is sending in a not so gentle way is, "Get up!” Wobbly and still dripping dirt and amniotic fluid, the little one makes it to its feet. Then in many cases, the mother does something most bizarre. She kicks the baby and sends it sprawling to the ground again. We are told that the purpose of this seeming brutality is to remind the baby how it is able to stand. In the wild it would need to get up as soon as possible to follow the herd for protection. The mother needs the herd as well and will follow with or without her baby. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and hunting dogs all would enjoy a young giraffe and thus they all must be able to move quickly at a moments notice.

There are many times in this life when everything that happens seems to be unfair. Just about the time you are able to stand after a trial, another one comes with as great a force as the previous and sends you tumbling head over heels. Could it be that God is just reminding you to get up and follow Him in the shadow of His care? Could it be that His intentions are not to harm but to help?

 

My friends, trials and hard times will come. Just as orphans in third world countries must learn to stand securely in our Savior, so must we. Life from the beginning to the end will be difficult. There will be pain and hurt enough for all. We can choose to become bitter about our situation or circumstances, or we can allow Him to make us better. We can react to the corrections and disciplines of our loving Father with anger and rebellion, or respond with trust and obedience. If you are down, LOOK UP and GET UP! If you get knocked down again, and you will be, learn from your fall and position yourself to move forward. You are in the shadow of His care. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2-3


*Richmond, Gary. A View From The Zoo.  ISDN:9780849906329. Word Books. 1987

(Photo courtesy Sue Hodnett)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board. 

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