A Lion from a Thicket
Dad wrote this article in the church
bulletin this week and it was so
good I wanted to post it here.
Sometimes, as I read my Bible, a verse
leaps out at me that I never noticed
before, but often to me, it's like
a brick in the face!
I really like Dad's 'Lion from a Thicket'
analogy so much better.
If you haven't already read it,
please take the time to read it now.
Here it is:
19th century pastor Charles Spurgeon once wrote of preaching in the dark at Metropolitan Tabernacle when the gaslights failed. Interestingly, he told that during the last hymn before he preached he was looking over his sermon notes, and 'from across the page a text leaped upon me like a lion from a thicket.' He said it seized him in its teeth and pierced him deeply. So obvious were its truths, so pointed its message and so clear were the headings of its outline that he felt led to lay aside the sermon he had prepared and to change his sermon. So he preached from the LIONLIKE TEXT.
No sooner had he begun to speak than the lights in the auditorium went out. People and preacher were plunged into darkness, but he had no need of sermon notes. He knew the new text from memory. The outline was fresh in his mind, so he calmed the people and preached with great power. In the dark. He recounted that he was sure that God had directed him to the new text.
It is that saying of his that keeps coming back to me, 'a text leaped upon me like a lion from a thicket!'
Have you ever had that happen to you in your devotions, in your Bible reading? I gather that it is almost unknown among the Lord's people. Very seldom do we see (or even hear of) a brother being broken, torn, rent in pieces by a LION OF A TEXT OF SCRIPTURE. Rather, neo-evangelicalism has conditioned us to study only the 'safe texts' and avoid all thickets of Holy Scripture where LION TEXTS lurk. We've absorbed the soft lies of the neo-theologians who smilingly whisper to us that all LION TEXTS have been retranslated so that they are now tame tabbycats, purring on our laps. Modern culture teaches us that being mauled be a Bible verse is an alien experience for modern day pastors. Brokenness is out of date and baptistically incorrect.
Ah, but if our hearts are tender, if we lay aside our worldly wise armour we may fall under the onslaught of a mighty text, torn limb from limb, rent in pieces by the ferocity of truth, helpless in its jaws. How long is it since that has been our experience? Not for a long time. In fact, I sometimes despair of experiencing again that blessed crushing of my stubborn will, that breaking of my hardened heart, that wounding of my arrogant pride.
It is not that God has lost His power or that His Word has no teeth. Rather it is that Christians keep their distance from LIONLIKE TEXTS. They ride in air conditioned comfort through lion parks where they can observe at a distance the great Bible truths that used to devour men.
I have decided that I need to hark back to Spurgeon's description of 'the text leaping upon him like a lion from a thicket.' I am convicted of being overcautious in my reading of God's Word. The Lord is challenging me to risk my soul, to hazard my all, and to prowl all the thickets of God's Word. I need to probe every bush, and to follow every game trail I find in hope of springing a LIONLIKE TEXT.
As time passes I find I am becoming more adventurous, and even beginning to leave my cardboard armour at home. In fact, I noticed the other day that it is gathering a lot of dust. I cannot yet boast of great numbers of LIONLIKE TEXTS found, but I can give thanks for some small progress. I am occasionally being torn by the Lion of Truth. Is it fearful? Yes and no. It was terribly frightening at first to be seized and dragged off to the lair of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. But I am discovering that His deepest wounds are for my good. Like Jacob, I am finding that all God's valiant men limp from the wounds of LIONTEXTS. Jacob was only a supplanter, a trickster, until God crippled him, and then he became Israel the prince of God. I am coming to believe that LIONLIKE TEXTS are the best kind. In fact, one of my friends suggested to me that most texts of Scripture will be found to be ravenous, if I read them in faith.
I suspect that the Christian who lays aside his armour of self will and intellectual pride and then prowls among the thickets of Scripture will find many hungry LIONTEXTS there. There is surely nothing better for God's people than for their pastor to limp to the pulpit with many a scar from having wrestled with a LIONLIKE of Scripture until it did its work in him. And nothing brings joy to a pastor's heart like looking out over his congregation on a Sunday morning and seeing many whose hearts have been chewed by texts that leaped upon them like lions from a thicket!
May they leap upon us as they did upon Spurgeon!