I don’t know a lot about lions. Probably comes from living in North America. Not having the close proximity to them like you may in other countries leaves me at a disadvantage. So what I do know about lions has been second hand knowledge or what I have gathered from Disney’s The Lion King and various trips to the zoo.
One thing I know about lions, or all larger cat species; you are not supposed to look them in the eyes. I had an older Indian man tell me this. When you are locking gaze with these animals, they see you as a threat. You are the villain. You are the bad guy and they will do whatever they can to take you down. This isn’t as big a concern when you are safely behind a wall or cage, but on the open plains of Africa or the jungles of India, it can be.
There was a tradition amongst royalty, in times gone by, that you would always bow to them. It was a symbol of respect. The king or queen is coming, I will bend low to acknowledge their power, authority and leadership over me. In these modern times, monarchies are not as popular and the bow has taken a backseat, only used in the most traditional of settings.
In ancient Babylon, there was a king named Xerxes. A wild king, often drinking, enjoying the spoils of war, living lavishly with his friends. He was the lion living in his den of pleasure. While it would have been an experience to see Xerxes in all of his “glory”, it was not an experience that all of his subjects had. To have an audience with the king, one had to be invited in. By Xerxes request only could you see his face. If you were a member of his court, and foolish enough to walk in, expecting or demanding the king’s time, it may cost you your life. If the king was not gracious to you, you could hear and feel the power of his roar. “Kill this man, for his insolence! How dare he enter into my presence without my blessing.”
Xerxes’ wrath was like the lion’s roar. It was quick. It was fast. It was immediate. The whole country side would hear it. A man has been put to death for not listening to the king. Someone did what they shouldn’t have, and now the king’s wrath must be felt. Someone locked eyes with the lion. Someone went into Xerxes throne room without permission. Wrath is going to be poured out. Punishments are going to be handed out. The lion will chase you and try to eat you. The king will have your head on a platter or see you crucified on high.
While Xerxes does not rule anymore, while lions are normally caged, wrath is still running rampant. We feel it when we do not do as we should, when we break the rules. Children of God, use wisdom when making decisions. There are always consequences. There are always repercussions to the things we do. The Apostle Paul taught us to live a life in harmony with the government, to lead a quiet life. Use wisdom when interacting with this authority. But more importantly, do not disobey the laws, the commands, the rules passed down in Scripture from Almighty GOD. While Xerxes was king over a vast empire, our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ is King over all Kings. Bow before Him, show Him your respect. Do not insult or do the things that are contrary to His will. To do so will invoke the wrath of the King. To do the will of the King will bring blessing, it will bring his favor.
My elementary school was very small. There may have been 150 kids from kindergarten through grade 6. With so few kids, fewer teachers were employed. One year the school split the grade 5 class into two. One half would join the grade 4 class, the other with the grade 6 class. I was on the chopping block. I could have been a really smart kid in the Grade 4/5 class, or a less than adequate student in the Grade 5/6 class. For whatever reason, I made the cut for the 5/6 class. It may sound good, but it was a nightmare for me. I was not a good student in that class. I struggled a lot that year. I wasn’t able to keep up with the things that we were being taught. I couldn’t remember or wrap my brain around concepts that everyone else seemed to pick up quiet easily. It was one of the most difficult school years of my life.
But my teacher never gave up on me. She believed that I could perform, as a Grade 5 student, at a Grade 6 level. She encouraged me, pointed out what I was doing wrong in math and helped me understand what plant pollination was. My teacher did what every teacher should do, but to an extraordinary level. She gave me more than my fair share of time and attention.
One day the class was assigned a writing assignment, and it was a big one. It was worth a substantial part of our grade. And on top of that, it was going to be read aloud, by the teacher, in front of the whole Grade 5/6 class. This was one that I didn’t want to screw up. I couldn’t screw up. I wanted to pass the class. At the time, I wasn’t a good writer. My spelling was atrocious. Grammar wasn’t an existence I was aware of. All the odds were stacked up against me. I knew it. My teacher knew it.
Finally, the day came that our assignments were handed in and we got to hear them read out loud. Mine was not the first one read out loud, but I remember there being a buzz in the class when it was my turn. Anxiety filled my heart. My palms were sweaty. Everything inside of me wanted that moment to be over so I could start dealing with the inevitable fact that I had done poorly.
To this day, I’m not sure what I wrote. I’ve looked back at all my Grade 5/6 assignments and cannot find this one. I can’t hear it being read when I replay this event in my mind either. What I do remember, and very clearly is this; when my teacher had finished reading aloud my writing assignment, she was crying.
My teacher was so moved by what I had written that she actually started crying. Not the one single tear cry, but a lot of tears. She looked at me and said, “I knew you could do it.” I had done a good job. I didn’t fail. I didn’t do a poor job when it came to this one, important writing assignment. While my classmates were weirded out and wondered what I had done to the teacher to make her cry, I was just glad I had done a good job.
Dew is the water that you find coating the grass in the early morning, when the coolness of the night meets the warmth of the sun’s rays. Dew is what gives the grass that beautiful glisten in the morning, making it shine like it was made of glass. But dew is so much more than what makes grass look good in the morning. For grass, dew is a blessing. Dew brings the grass extra moisture, some extra nourishment and life. Dew offers the grass a little bit more of what it needs to keep growing, to keep striving, to keep on living.
Having my teacher cry and approve of my work was the dew on the grass in my Grade 5/6 year. I didn’t get a lot of encouragement when it came to my school work. I wasn’t always uplifted the way that I may have needed. Discouragement and ridicule, I had those in plenty. What I needed was the dew, something life giving, life affirming, something to keep me going. Having my teacher moved to tears and say, “I knew you could do it” was exactly what I needed. Not only in that moment, but for my whole life.
Just like the dew, encouragement affects the surface, turns a frown into a smile. Encouragement goes deep too. The dew gives sustenance to the veins in the grass, so uplifting words bring strength, joy and confidence. My teacher’s words uplifted me and brought confidence to my writing, but to hear Jesus speak, to hear His words, uplifts and brings confidence to my spirit, to the deepest parts of my being. Jesus’ words permeate every facet of my being and changes things in me I didn’t know needed changing. To hear encouragement from my teacher was amazing, but to hear the Word of Life speak to me, to have the King of all Kings look at me and with tears and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”, that kind of encouragement is beyond words.
A king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
Proverbs 19:12 CJB
May you find yourself in a place where the lion’s roar is not heard. May you choose to be obedient to the Word of Almighty God. And may His favor, His words of Life rest on you, permeate you like the dew on the grass.
I'm writer. I'm thinker. I'm a reader.
I'm still figuring it out.
I live in Canada with my wife, beautiful kids, and annoying puppy.
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