Elephant Lessons

The story goes about a man who had raised an elephant from birth because it’s mother had been killed by poachers. When the baby became old enough, it was released into the wild of a large game preserve. The man eventually left the area, but returned some years later, and wondered if the elephant he had raised would remember him. After all, elephants have legendary memories, right?

He traveled to the area where the elephant was supposed to be, and seeing an elephant he was sure was “his” elephant, and he walked over to it with confidence. The elephant whirled, and with flapping ears and a loud trumpet the elephant came running to the man….

Knocked him over, and proceeded to stomp on him!! The man was saved from death by friends with him who finally scared the elephant off and pulled the man to safety.

Yeah. It wasn’t the same elephant.

Three blind people blind were taken up to an elephant. One, feeling a leg, said “An elephant is like a tree!” The second one, feeling the tail, said “An elephant is like a rope!” The third, feeling the trunk, said “An elephant is like a great snake!”

They were all right, but they were all wrong.

A game preserve was having some trouble with their young adult bull elephants harassing other animals, and it was becoming a serious problem when one killed a young rhino. But knowing how elephants live and interact, they brought in a couple of “old” elephants, and they taught the younger elephants how to behave toward other animals! Soon the harassment stopped.

Speaking of legendary memory, elephants always remember where water holes and feeding grounds are located as they migrate seasonally. When they find a water hole that appears to have dried up, they will dig using feet, trunks, and tusks, making great holes until they find water. Thus water for other animals is made available as well.

Elephants are very family and community oriented. The entire herd is involved in raising young elephants, and all adults will protect any baby. The herd is matriarchal in nature, and older females will care for the babies as the herd travels in search of food and water.

Elephants seem deeply compassionate, and will mourn individually and as a herd when one of their family or herd member dies. When an elephant comes across the bones of another elephant, they will gently touch the skull and tusks with their feet and trunk. But when an elephant walks past a spot where a loved one died, they will stop and remain silent for minutes at a time.

Remembering, perhaps?

In Genesis chapter 1 God made all the living creatures to be under the rule of mankind. The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. (v. 25) The two largest animals on the planet, the whale and the elephant, seem to have the ability to understand people. We have all read stories how some fishermen or divers have cut away fishing nets entangling the flukes of a whale, and how that massive creature seemed to know they were helping.

I recall one story of a family with an autistic child visiting the circus, and the parents suddenly realized the child was no longer with them! A frantic search began, and the child was found in the elephant pen, setting in the curved trunk of an elephant as the massive creature gently rocked the child in it’s trunk. Rocking has long been recognized as having a calming effect for many autistic children.

Coincidence? Maybe. I think not. Many animals display a “sixth sense” in relation to people, and we often marvel at the sense of a supernatural encounter it gives us.

Humans have access to supernatural abilities through the Holy Spirit of God. If we believe what the Bible teaches us about the seal of our salvation in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and the Holy Spirit guides us, teaches us, leads us, and influences our actions, then we should maintain a listening heart, sensitive to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit actually prepares us to fight spiritual battles during the trials in our lives, and always, always points us to Jesus in our time of need, and Jesus points us to the Father.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

We are caught up in the needs of this life. We spend more time at the grocery store than we do reading the Word of God. A pastor sent me a sign that said “When you randomly wake up at night, sometimes it’s the Holy Spirit saying “Hey, spend some time with me.”

The Spirit never distracts from the Son, and the Son never distracts from the Father. They are all One. They all want us to live life Their way, and to experience the fullness of the ability we are given, and indeed, to live life more abundantly.