The Hartebeest and the Lion


“There is the dumbest animal alive,” our guide said, “It is the Jackson’s Hartebeest. Our nickname for him is ‘Stupid’.” Our Uganda mission team was blessed to be taken on a sight-seeing Safari in Murchison Falls National Park. “They are so dumb,” he continued “that they will forget that they are running from a lion and stop to eat something. Then they get eaten.” Instantly my brain went to Bugs Bunny cartoon mode. Our van filled with laughter as we imagined scenarios where the idiotic creature would be running from a lion and forgetfully wonder to himself, “Why am I running? This sucks… I need a snack... Oh look! Food.” Roar! Crunch. Suddenly the dumb cartoon animal, who gets a piano dropped on his head, was standing in front of me in the flesh. What an idiot. He even looks animated. There he is, the Jackson’s Hartebeest, a true life cartoon.

While I got a laugh at the hartebeest’s expense, part of me felt bad for it. We laugh at cartoons because they’re not real. But here he was, as real as can be. He just looked back at me with a blank stare. No one at home in there. The scary thing is, I saw myself in him. I’ve seen the danger of sin and evil. I know sin is deadly. I run from it sometimes when the threat scares me. I don’t flee because I’m smart, I flee because I’m scared.

The threat of God’s perfect law show’s me that sin will destroy me.

 But I forget. I can be in a dead sprint running from sin, and sin on the way! I forget the warning of St Peter, “Be sober minded. Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” I’m not just forgetful and stupid about running from sin. Sometimes I’m running straight towards it. I’m twice the fool as the hartebeest. I’m like a real life cartoon, but its not funny. St Paul says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do the thing I want and I do the very thing I hate.” I’m the idiotic creature looking at an idiotic creature in the mirror. There he is in the flesh, looking back at me, a true life cartoon. What a wretched hartebeest I am!

All of the sudden our guide directed the safari van off of the path and we were racing across the plains. The guide shouting to the driver, “It’s this way!” This was unexpected, a rare chance. I could feel the excitement and anticipation building in our group. We couldn’t see him yet but we knew we would. We would see a lion! Although my senses don’t compare to a wild animal’s, its true that the lion’s presence is felt before you ever see him. He blends in so well that in fact we were very close before we realized exactly where he was. But in your gut you know he’s there. When you actually see a male lion in the wild, you are immediately struck by how massive he is. No description, picture or video can come close to doing it justice. I swear he seemed as big as the twelve passenger van we were in. I was terrified. Our van could have caught on fire and I wouldn’t have gotten out.

His head and mane like matted beams of light from a golden crown, screamed majesty. His shoulders were stone chiseled power. His paws and claws were like spiked wrecking balls threatening instant destruction. His teeth were like ivory towers sharpened down to dagger tips. His chin was still soaked in blood. But it’s his eyes I can’t forget. You can’t hide from them. They look right through you. They expose your naked soul. They are ancient, seemingly infinite, and as strikingly serene and peaceful as they are focused and fierce. His presence is eerily calm. He fears no one, no thing, and everything fears him. He is at peace and in control. He is king. I saw the king and I was filled with awe. I was paralyzed and hypnotized. My vision tunneled. I couldn’t tear my captivated eyes away from him. I could see nothing else. I wanted to stay as badly as I wanted to get away.

I am the hartebeest. But the devil is not the lion. St Peter says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. But he’s not the lion. Christ Jesus, our King, is the Lion. It is not Satan we should fear. It is God Almighty. Satan is a laughing hyena. He’s laughing at the stupid hartebeest who forgets who the King is. But Christ the Lion is no beast of the field. He is the majestic and merciful God. The threat of wrath doesn’t scare you into believing the Lion is good. Only His mercy can cause you to believe that. The Lion laid down His mane and His claws and His fangs and became like the lowly hartebeest. He died a hartebeest’s death. He bore the burden of a fool in the cartoon. He laid it down for you and for me, to save us from sin and death, but He has taken it up again. It is finished.

He is crowned with glory in beams of light and majesty. He is ancient, infinite, strikingly serene, and powerfully peaceful.

He is focused and fierce. His hands have holes and His scars are holy.

His shoulders are stone chiseled power and His presence is calm. Nothing is hidden from His sight. There is no fear in Him. He is in total control. He is King. May our vision tunnel. May our lives funnel and our eyes focus on Him. May He expose and purify our naked souls. May He destroy us and make us alive in Him. He is coming soon. He is closer than we think. We may not see Him yet but we know we will. We will see the Lion!

Bill Brimer is a singer/songwriter, producer and guitarist from Dallas, Texas. He is the co-founder, Associate Pastor and Creative Director at SoulThirst Church in The Colony, Texas.  He has recorded and released three original albums, Snakes & Doves (Grace Bomb Records 2011), Love Above All (Grace Bomb Records 2012) and Bill Brimer & The Skybirds (SoulThirst Sound 2016). All his music is funded by donations from generous listeners and available for free download.  His music has been described as a modern blend of vintage country, punk and gospel. He is the co-host and producer of the weekly podcast God Geeks. 

Twitter: @BillBrimer