Sunday, July 6, 2014

God and the Leopard

I just shared this story in church, but I thought it would be a good one to share here as well. In 2011 I went with my brother to South Africa and Swaziland to visit the people and the area where he served his mission. I think I'm going to have to eventually share more stories of this, but for now I'm sticking to the story of how our Heavenly Father answers our prayers.

When we first arrived in Africa we stayed 3 or 4 nights in Krugar National Park. We were here for the Safari adventure to see the amazing animals that Africa had to offer. This was incredible.

Well on our last day in Krugar Park, after we packed up camp to head out we said a prayer before we headed on our way. In the prayer my brother said, and I quote, "Please let us see a leopard today." After he finished I burst out laughing at him for his obvious desperation and what I thought of as childishness. He just said, "What? I really want to see a leopard in the wild."

Now I'm going to throw out this completely made up statistic, but I'd say one in a million people will see a leopard out in the wild. At least a good look at one. They are great at hiding themselves and they usually don't want to be seen.

Well we're driving on our way out of the park. We're the only car in any direction and out of the bushes walks a leopard. Sure enough, there it was. It stood right next to my brother's window and stared him right in the eyes. The leopard looked at all three of us in the car and then walked on. It walked in front of our car on the street for a couple yards and then bounded off again into the bushes where it once again was completely hidden and undetectable.

Luckily after the initial shock wore off, I quickly grabbed the camera and snapped a couple shots.

As I was reflecting on this experience today I realized a couple of things. First, God has a great sense of humor. I can just imagine him laughing like I did at my brother's absurd prayer and excitedly waiting for the moment to fulfill it. 

Second, our Heavenly Father loves us more than I could ever possibly imagine. He loves us so much that He will do anything in His power to make us happy. Whether that be helping us feel loved through an extremely difficult time, or helping us to see a leopard in the wild. He loves us and cares about our well being. We are here to enjoy the journey. Yes, there are hard times and sometimes terrible times to be endured, but they are all part of the plan. We are here to grow and learn to rely on the Lord, and this can't be done without sacrifice on our end. But God is there in times of bad and in times of good to bring infinite happiness and pleasure. 

Thanks to Jake's Grandma, we have a plaque of a Gordon B. Hinckley quote in our living room that is very fitting. It reads, "In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."

God is there. He loves us. And he wants to see that joy in our lives. "...ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you;" 
- 3rd Nephi 27:29

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