I have a friend who just returned from an African safari. His wife, daughter and Angleburt, the guide, freely 4-wheeling across the wild savannah, experiencing the wild life up close and personal.

They have pictures to prove it. Lions, cheetahs and leopards(above just a few feet from their vehicle) hippopotamus(the bully of Africa), alligators, wildebeests, warthogs and I could go on. My friend & his family had the adventure of a lifetime.

Many of us have seen the captive versions in barred zoos and synthetic environments. Interesting but no adventure.

Angleburt was incredible. He knew what to look for and could spot the picture prey at long distances where even the binoculars would not serve my friends.

My buddy, we’ll call him George, because that’s what his real name is, … has been in a box-less(faith box), bar-less(jail bars) state forever. He has discovered God at work in the wild and joined him there. He can see God working where others can’t even see God. Every once in a while, I have joined him on mini spiritual safaris to discover what God is up to in the wild. Amazing. Conversations, prayers, openness with people who are highly unlikely to ever darken the doors of a church.

I asked George, after his safari, if he would like to come with me to the zoo. He wasn’t much interested.

I asked him if he thought that Angleburt might ever want to become a tour-guide at the zoo since he knew the animals so well and could spot them so easily. He thought that Angleburt was likely happy where he was. I thought he might make more money in the zoo, being able to guide more people and not needing a land rover. George was fairly certain that the money wouldn’t matter.

A walk around the zoo is the closest that most of us are likely to get to some of these animals. But it is a poor substitute … in some ways a great tragedy. Lions were born to hunt not to lay in a man made environment. In captivity they are no longer what they were created to be.

Neither are we.

The bars hurt us as much as they protect us. Our church bars. Every now and then something wild wanders in and we don’t have a clue what to do so mostly we just run away.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is a wild world out there beyond the church zoo and the King of the jungle is at work, … in the white fields. He is doing things that we cannot see even when we get up close because we are used to watching from the safe side of the bars. That’s what we’ve become … picture takers … digital disciples, celebrating past victories and triumphs in our synthetic environments.

You can live like that if you wish … spending your life on the wrong side of the bars. Somehow we have become the curiosity while life has gone on all around us. Every once in a while someone comes in with a grandchild in tow, to show them what they used to be before their safari.

Help ME Lord … to know YOU and to see your beautiful ongoing work as a laborer in the harvest fields.