“Dey not is lions!”
A tiny, but angry voice came from behind us. My daughter Hope and I turned nonchalantly to side-eye the tantrum we felt sure would follow such an emphatic proclamation and bit our lips to keep from laughing at what we saw.
A two-year-old towhead stood hugging himself as far around as his soft little arms would reach. His feet, almost cubic in their short shoes, were planted firmly shoulder width apart, and the ruffled edge of a diaper or pull-up peeked out from the top of his navy cargo shorts. Chin down as far as it would go, the boy looked out from under a deeply creased brow and huffed like a miniature bull.
A giggle escaped me. I just couldn’t help it.
Insulted, the boy whirled on me, no doubt trying to pierce me with those Precious Moments eyes of his In doing so, he sent his pacifier swinging from the clip near his collar. It was too much. I looked away as the boy’s daddy came around the corner.
“Yes, Dillon, there ARE lions,” Dillon’s daddy corrected in even tones. “They’re over there where Mommy is.”
“Dey NOT!” the boy insisted.
No answer. I turned. Dillon’s daddy answered a text. Softening just a bit, Dillon watched the glass where he had expected the lions to be with hopeful expectation.
Nothing. Lowering his arms, Dillon approached the glass.
“Son,” Daddy cautioned absently, still focused on his phone.
Mouth hanging open, pacifier swinging, Dillon searched the patch of grass framed carefully by zookeepers, his grubby hands leaving marks as they dragged down the window. Whispering, he formed words with his lips that I couldn’t make out.
My smile faded. I felt sad for Dillon and hoped he would go find his mommy so he could find what he was looking for.
It was not to be. Disillusioned and tired from a full day at the zoo, Dillon dropped his arms to his sides, threw his head back, and wailed, pulling Daddy’s attention away from his phone and bringing Mommy around the corner with a stroller and baby sister in tow.
No doubt used to this type of behavior, Dillon’s parents had a wordless conversation with their eyes that lasted about three seconds and whisked the child away—I assume, toward naptime—the direction opposite that from which Mommy had come.
Curious, I took a peek around the corner into the chain link animal enclosure.
Dillon’s parents were right. There he was in all his sun-drenched glory, a male lion with a fairly impressive mane in full view, mouth open, pink tongue hanging out, just a few feet from where Dillon thought he should be.
It made me think. How often do we, even those of us who know Him, doubt God simply because He doesn’t behave the way we want Him to, the way we think He should?
We must remember that God is not a tame thing. He is not a pet. He is not a genie, either, or a jester or a policeman. He cannot be contained or explained or controlled. If He could, He would not be worth worshiping.
No, He is God, not a curiosity, and He makes the rules.
So, if you’ve given up on Him, even for a moment, simply because He didn’t show up when, where, or how you expected Him to, I encourage you to look outside the frame you’ve crafted for His appearance. Seek Him with your whole heart, friend, and I promise you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13).