When We Went to the Zoo

For weeks, my youngest son has been pulling on me to do something special, just me and him. With winter masquerading as spring this year, he asked if we could go to the zoo. I saw the picture in his mind: He and mom at the zoo, with some ice cream to follow it up. Sounds amazing, right?

The morning of this wonderful idea started out as usual – up a little before 7, dogs barking, kids waking, breakfast bowls filling with cereal. Then onto chores, school and sorting laundry baskets that had filled up overnight. (If there’s a fairy that helps fill the baskets, where’s the fairy that helps empty them?!)

My to-do list was full. I had projects I wanted to finish, lessons plans to look over, and then as I walked across the living room floor, the grit on my bare feet reminded me it had been awhile since I swept.

But my son wanted to go to the zoo.

The message of Ann Voskamp’s book The Broken Way rang in my ears –

 If you want to break the hold time has on you, give it away.

And I knew just who to give it to today.

So while I made a few arrangements in order slip away, my little guy filled two water bottles, put on a hat and waited for me in the car.

Finally at the zoo, I let my seven year old lead the way. We passed the parrots where he told me he knew how to speak parrot. We admired the scarlet ibis and studied the anteater’s tail. He moved quickly from cage to cage and we marveled at how no one else was around to argue with our pace or challenge our conversation. He was all mine and I was all his.

But something happened inside me when we arrived at the lion cage. We stared at the three mama lions basking lazily in the sun. Just up from their hotwire enclosed cubicle grazed a herd of wildebeests. Their natural prey.

In real life those animals would be endangered of losing life and limb with three lionesses in close proximity. But here in the zoo, they’re safe and protected.

And in the wild, the lionesses wouldn’t be basking lazily in the sun when they could be roaming the hills hunting for the evening meal! It’s like their basic, natural instinct had been neutered.

Now, instead of hunting, their food is thrown out to them, water falls into a bucket and people meander by with cameras and strollers, observing in awe the strength and power that remains unused. All the while, wildebeests roam peacefully in full sight.

I sat there staring at this sight and saw a parallel to my life – our lives – as Christians.

Honestly I like the idea of living in a safe, protected zone with thick glass walls and humming power cables encasing me. How relaxing it would be to have my food thrown out to me each morning and evening, eliminating the need for a dangerous hunt. And I could get used to the idea of people walking by, admiring my strength and power, reading the story of my life on a granite plate beside my cage.

But is that what God has called me, and the others who bear His name, to? No!

At our rebirth, God instilled in us the desire, the natural instinct to love Him and share His love with others. Has that passion been quenched by living for our self and pursuing after self-fulfilling purposes? Do we shy away from the hunts God calls us to, afraid of the danger that could happen if we go there?  Instead of pursuing the Bread of Life our self, are we feasting on what preachers and YouTube clips throw out to us? Their catchy lines wrapped in T-Bone packages. And all the while, we let the people God has put in our lives to witness to and challenge, walk right by our sunny window. We catch a few more rays, and comb down our fur just one more time.

Jesus didn’t save us to live life in a zoo! God gifted us with passions and purposes to use – in the wild! He didn’t transform our life to put us behind safety glass and parade other people by to admire our strength, beauty and stored away power. We don’t ever arrive at some stage in Christianity where troubles and hardships cease. He saves us and reveals truth to us so that we will use it, and pass it on to those He puts in our lives and who cross our path.

I loved the trip to the zoo with my youngest son. The time we spent walking and talking, sharing frozen yogurt together, did break the constraint time tries to hold over me. We receive as we give away. Time with my kids is a precious deposit into eternal purposes.

But the question that lingered in my mind well after the zoo lights were off is: Are we lying lazily around, basking in safe, secured days while the people God’s put in our life walk right within our reach?

I know I’m still mulling over the answer to that question. And I hope you will too.


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The Thread of Redemption exists to point out the fingerprints and footprints of God in the brokenness of life.

Through people’s stories we will highlight the thread of redemption weaved through out the fabric of our lives. We may not be able to see Him with the naked eye, but with just the right tools we can say, Look, He’s right there! He has been here all this time. I just couldn’t see Him!

Do you have a story to share?

Have you seen the Lord miraculously provide for you when there was no way? Has He answered a prayer you thought was impossible? The list is endless of how He redeems the story. Visit our share you story page and see how you can share yours!

4 thoughts on “When We Went to the Zoo

  1. What a fantastic and accurate analogy. I do think sometimes we expect God to smooth our paths since we follow Him. Such a good lesson on why it really is the opposite so often!

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  2. It seems our God has been stirring both of our hearts with many of the same things to “mull over”! I just read “The Broken Way” and as I have been meditating and memorizing Philippians the past couple of months (with months to go on this memorizing adventure!) Paul’s words of “being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service…” then saying “I am glad and rejoice…” Thinking too of Jesus paralleling giving food and drink to the hungry and thirsty a ministry to our King Himself… (Matt 25: 35)
    Even on Wednesday our Small Group looked into Micah 6:7-8. Yes, “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This all ties in with your next, most recent post… Our humble walk. Each day in fellowship with the Spirit of God Almighty. And as I read your insightful analogy of the zoo, I was thinking too of the angle that our Lord does give us our daily bread and His rod and his staff do comfort us and who shall I fear… Lots of mulling in my mind and heart as well! Love to you.

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