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April 24, 2017 "Up Close and Personal"

Many of us have admired giraffes from a distance.  It’s is obvious that they have long, slender necks and that as a result they can gracefully soar above most other creatures on earth.  But rarely have many of us had opportunities to know giraffes from the up-close-and personal viewpoint.  All that ended for me last week as I had the chance to visit Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida with Ken, my daughter, and granddaughter!

We road through the various sections of the facility as if on safari.  It was a wonder and a delight to see animals in terrains resembling their natural habitats—animals that we rarely get a chance to see.  An ostrich pecked at our windshield as if demanding food.  Huge numbers of zebras proudly displayed their one-of-a-kind patterns of black and white.  Giraffes strolled along as if to teach us the no-care-in-the-world mode of living.

Near the end of our visit we discovered an area allocated for feeding giraffes.  In order to achieve our up-close-and-personal stance we had to ascend a ramp onto a tall perch that put adults on eye-level with the eight-foot animals.  We eagerly paid multiple $2.00 increments for 3 lettuce leaves for the feeding task. 

I held two-year-old Lily Mae as she held the lettuce leaves out to the giraffes. She was a bit reticent and even in my arms she was barely able to get the lettuce leaves close enough for the giraffes, but never-you-mind!  The giraffes had a masterplan for dealing with such challenges!

We discovered that giraffes not only have long necks, but they also have incredibly long tongues that are agile—that can twist and turn.  They are designed for pulling the leaves high off the acacia tree—the leaves that grow above the thorns found on lower parts of the tree.  But in this instance, the long, twisty tongues could maneuver the lettuce leaves right out of the hand of a delighted two-year-old with her grandmother experiencing great joy and wonder in the process!

So often you and I think that we know SO much about God.  But often we experience God only from a distance!  We spend little time in prayer, little time in worship, little time seeking understanding of who God is and what God desires to do in the world.

But God always wants to change that for us!  God invites us into an up-close-and-personal relationship!  Then and only then can we truly begin to know God, to feel God’s love, and to understand what God has to offer us in our lives!

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