Hey! Be Watchful.
My love for the wild and open forests has never ever left me.
I remember clearly it was around the late 80s when Bev and I went to visit Tadoba for the first time. Tadoba is the oldest National Park in Maharashtra. Nearly 50 Km from all our church plants in Chandrapur.
My friend was the forest ranger there.
Although this was our first visit, my wife and I can never ever forget it. Later on we went there regularly spending time both with God as well as nature in the wild.
The Park, full of teak and ‘tendu’ trees and teeming with wild ox or ‘Gaur’, marsh crocs or ‘muggers’ as we call it, with a few tigers, leopards, sloth bears, the ‘Nilgai’, the ‘Sambar’ and ‘Cheetal’ or spotted deer. In the late evenings I would wait at the lake’s edge and watch wild boar forage around as animals came to drink before sunset. And near the rocky areas you had to be careful with those eight feet beehives and make sure you didn’t disturb them! The Park also has wild dog and I’ve seen pugmarks many times and kept away. The ‘mahua’ trees had alcoholic flowers that the tribals used for brewing liquor, and it was great fun to see ‘langur’ monkeys and sometimes sloth bears drunk after consuming the mahua flowers!
But the king of the area was the fresh water marsh croc or the ‘mugger’ (I came to know thislater). The lake was filled with huge fish, turtles and God knows what…but there was a board there that said, ‘swimming strictly prohibited, survivors will be prosecuted’. Tadoba had an amazing croc breeding farm too and I’ve held hatchling crocs in my hands…to feel them wiggle so hard…you can imagine the strength they have when just hatched!
I love Tadoba. And would go back there anytime if I had the opportunity.
Why do I write this to you today?
Let me share with you the first time we went to Tadoba.
It was late morning time. Bev and I left my ranger friend’s house and found a quiet spot, about 20 feet from the lake’s edge. We put our mat down under a lovely shady Jamun tree. I changed into my ‘lungi’ (something like a sarong) took my Bible, laid back on a makeshift pillow and was determined to enjoy the sounds and smell of the forest. Bev was fast asleep in minutes.
Half an hour must have passed and then suddenly from the corner of my eye I heard the flapping of wings and an egret take off rather hurriedly near us. I raised my head a bit to see what was happening, and to my chagrin saw a huge croc not ten feet away from my legs. My reflexes and fear joined hands. I was up with a massive shout and I threw the Bible at the croc. Bev screamed not knowing what was happening. Fortunately the croc turned around and slid back into the water with a splash I cannot forget. My lungi came off. But we were safe!
That was the first time I knew crocs were in the lake, and why survivors would be prosecuted!
There are some things in life you can never forget and know deeply that God protects us at all times. What if I had fallen asleep? I could never tell this story to you then!
I say this especially for us to learn something vital.
Deception is crawling into the church today. The cunning and craftiness of the enemy is hidden to most until it comes upon them suddenly like a croc from the water’s edge.
In Matt 7:15,16 Jesus says…Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.
This is what William Barclay says in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew…“He said that the false prophets were like wolves in sheep’s clothing. When the shepherd watched his flocks upon the hillside, his garment was a sheepskin, worn with the skin outside and the fleece inside. But a man might wear a shepherd’s dress and still not be a shepherd. The prophets had acquired a conventional dress. Elijah had a mantle (1 Kings 19:13,19), and that mantle had been a hairy cloak (2 Kings 1:8). That sheepskin mantle had become the uniform of the prophets, just as the Greek philosophers had worn the philosopher’s robe. It was by that mantle that the prophet could be distinguished from other men. But sometimes that garb was worn by those who had no right to wear it, for Zechariah in his picture of the great days to come says, “Neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive’’ (Zechariah 13:4). There were those who wore a prophet’s cloak, but who lived anything but a prophet’s life.”
Not everything you see and hear is true.
Learn to discern.
Learn to measure everything by the Bible.
Don’t get intimidated by miracles and healings, the Devil is great at that.
Make sure a man’s character and not his reputation is holding his gift.
Ask God for wisdom.
Well, I learned great lessons in Tadoba…don’t take things so easy even if the surrounding is calm…find out everything before you settle down…be vigilant and watchful at all times…and…don’t wear a lungi when your out of the house! (Especially for me!)