When I heard about the woman that had been attacked in her car at Johannesburg Lion Park, I immediately wondered how this could happen. I wondered if they would lose business with such a tragic loss. Aren’t they supposed to keep their patrons safe?
And then I read the article.
The park owner was not at fault. The deceased woman made a tragic mistake.
She had her window all the way down.
In a Lion Park.
Despite many signs and rules that warned her not to do just that.
So this is where most people breathe a sigh of relief. Oh, ok. I would never do that. I am safe.
Isn’t that what we do when we hear horrible news?
How did they die? A car accident? ok, well I am a good driver. I am ok.
How did their child die? Oh, they drowned? My kids can swim. I am ok.
He lost his job? Why? Oh, I am in a good field. I am ok.
They got divorced? Why? Oh, I have a good marriage. I am ok.
We assess our risk. And relax. But before you do that here, let me ask you to reconsider.
You see there is a greater risk to you than even losing your own life.
It is more dangerous, and yet more common.
You could lose your soul.
And the prevention measures are so similar.
Keep your window up!
Let’s imagine for a minute, what this poor woman was thinking.
“What a beautiful lion. He is at a safe distance. I just want a better look. I know that he is dangerous. But I bet he’s not hungry. I really want to open my window.”
What would you tell her? Or better yet, what if you were in a car with a friend tomorrow, at this same park, near another lion. What words of caution would you give?
“No, do NOT open that window. I know he is beautiful, but he is also dangerous. We know how this will play out. The rules are there for a reason. They are established for your own good. What you feel now does not trump the Owner’s rules.”
“No,” your friend argues. “I know what I feel. I feel like it would be ok to open the window. That rule is outdated. That rule was for yesterday. I realize that it turned out badly for that other girl, but I know I am different. Who are you to judge?”
Everyday we make choices to open the window. Everyday we say ” I will be different. Those rules don’t apply to me.”
And we are getting eaten alive.
We are. The church. We have erased the lines. No more rules. No one becomes like Jesus because of rules, right?
Some have interpreted “Grace” to mean “You can do everything the world does.”
Watch movies that glorify every sin under the sun, listen to music that seeks to destroy the image of our God, wear clothes designed to elicit lust. After all, rules and God’s laws are so 1980’s. We can do it all!
Because we are free in Christ, right?
However, in this quest to run from legalism, we have made a huge mistake. We have opened the window to our enemy the lion standing right there waiting to see whom he may devour.
I hope you hear my heart. I am not making light of this story in the slightest. This story is devastatingly tragic, yet it was avoidable.
Many of us are also living through tragic yet avoidable stories, all because someone decided to open the window. Someone thought, “I will be different. Those rules don’t apply to me.” But the ending is always the same. There are many that suffer great pain. Many that shake their head and ask why. No one escapes unscathed.
I pray for this woman’s family. I cannot imagine the pain they are feeling.
I pray for all that are out there today, living with the pain of other people’s bad choices.
And I pray for you, if you are looking at that window, tempted to believe that you will be different, that you can break the “Owner’s” rules to find what you perceive to be true happiness. I pray that you would flee temptation. That you would run to the heart of God. That you would trust His Word, and walk in obedience to it.
Even……. when you do not feel like it. Keep the window closed!