Thought For The Week – 19th September

One of the good things when Sandra and I are away in the caravan is that there is no rush or list of jobs to do. We enjoy a leisurely breakfast and while we have our next cup of coffee we look at one of Eddie Askew’s meditations. I wanted to share this one with you:-

God has searched us out Matthew 13: 44-46

Vincent Donovan, a Roman Catholic missionary priest wrote an exciting book, Christianity Rediscovered. He tells of the evangelism among the Masai of East Africa. The Masai are a tough, nomadic tribe. I remember visiting some of their kraals in early days, travelling in Kenya. They’re tall, independent, courageous people. Although not hunters, they’ll kill to protect their cattle, and killing a lion with a stabbing spear is still their greatest feat of manhood. (It would be mine too!)

Donovan, sitting in his mission compound, reading St Paul’s missionary travels, felt compelled to go to the Masai in the way he did. He wouldn’t take education, or medicine, or anything else. Except for his faith, he’d go empty-handed, to visit and listen, and to talk about God. His book records the way he was challenged to cut through Western Christian assumptions and make Christ relevant to the Masai through their own lifestyle and culture.

He found problems of language. He describes how, in both Masai and Kiswahili, the word he used for ‘to believe’ really meant ‘to agree to’. One day, a Masai elder told him that the word was “…like a hunter shooting an animal with his gun at a distance – only his eyes and fingers took part in the act. For a man really to believe is like a lion going after his prey. His nose, eyes and ears pick up the prey. His legs give him the speed to catch it. All the power of his body is involved in the terrible death leap … And as the animal goes down the lion envelopes it in his arms … and makes it part of himself. This is the way a lion kills. This is the way a man believes. This is what faith is.” The elder went on. “You told us of the High God, how we must search for him … But we have not done this … He has searched us out and found us. All the time we think we are the lion. In the end the lion is God.”

The lion image, like the lion itself, is both beautiful and dangerous. It pictures God’s total involvement in seeking us, taking us to himself. It also tells us that faith is God’s gift, and that our response can’t be a lukewarm agreement from afar, but deep commitment. Like all parables though, don’t stretch it too far. The initiative is God’s, but we are not His prey. We are His people. “In the end the lion is God.” True, but His gift is life, resurrection life. “Lord, increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5).

(As written by Eddie Askew, former General Director of The Leprosy Mission International. Reproduced with permission).

Mike Herman

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