It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while we’ll see deer from our house, running through the fields on the other side of the road. Inevitably, we stop what we’re doing and watch—even if only for a couple of seconds.
I don’t know what it is about deer that makes them so interesting. If I stop and think about it for very long, I can hardly justify it except to say that it’s strange to see deer. And strangeness almost always grabs our attention.
Which is why squirrels, on the other hand, don’t typically stand out. Squirrels are everywhere. Seeing a squirrel is like seeing leaves on a tree—we expect them to be there, we expect them as part of the “background”. Plus, squirrels are small and basically harmless. They don’t impact us in any meaningful ways.
If you were to see a squirrel in the church parking lot, you probably wouldn’t even think twice about it. You’d ignore it as you walked to your car.
But what if you saw a lion sitting in the church parking lot? You couldn’t possibly ignore it. A lion is big and strong. Unfamiliar and unpredictable. It doesn’t blend into the background. A lion in the parking lot requires a plan. Unlike a squirrel, a lion demands your attention.
As I sang on Sunday morning following my sermon, I thought about what I hoped to have accomplished. And I realized that I had attempted, in a manner of speaking, To point out a lion in the parking lot.
Just as a lion demands our attention, so too does God.
None of us would take a lion in the parking lot lightly. And if we began to do so, we would hopefully have people telling us—“hey, that’s a LION.”
Because when we remember that a lion is A LION, we will show it a certain level of respect. When we remember that a lion is A LION, we will be careful—not careless.
There are an endless number of things to do when it comes to living the Christian life. My sermon on Sunday included a few: “keep God in the picture”; “don’t show partiality”; “forgive and restore broken relationships”; “don’t cover sin with sin”. Sunday after Sunday, blog post after blog post, we are fed these things. Following Jesus is a call to act.
But in the busy-ness of acting—doing, we can’t forget that there’s a lion in the parking lot. We can’t forget that the reason we act is because of who God is.
If we forget that the LORD is a God of knowledge, who weighs our actions, guards the faithful, cuts off the wicked, and judges the ends of the earth (2 Samuel 2), then when God is slow to enact justice, we will see it as a sign of weakness or even inability, rather than a display of his patience, mercy, and grace (Romans 2).
If we forget that the LORD is “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6), we might be tempted to see tragedy as God’s abandonment of us, rather than a refining fire that burns away the dross in our hearts, leaving behind a purer gold (1 Peter 1:7, Isaiah 48:10).
When we read the Bible, we rightly want to take something away. We want some practical bit of advice—some action that can be implemented into our lives.
But sometimes, the very best thing we can do is read our Bibles and conclude, “there’s a lion in the parking lot.” Not a squirrel, not a deer, but a lion. Pausing to recognize that God is GOD will give energy and focus to our lives as Christians.