Elephants—No Joke

I remember an elephant joke we kids used to tell. In fact, at someone’s birthday party, I received a whole book full of elephant jokes. (Not sure such a book would survive today.) Anyway, here’s one embedded in the hard drive of my memory all these years later. Q: What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence? A: Time to get the fence fixed.

Since we’re about to launch a new mini-series, “For the Love of an Animal,” here’s an elephant story straight out of the headlines. A rogue herd of 15 elephants is on the warpath! According to NBC News, the herd “was approaching the city of Kunming, the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, on Wednesday, defying attempts to redirect them after a journey of several hundred miles from forests to the south” (www.nbcnews.com/news/world/herd-wild-elephants-approaches-chinese-city-after-300-mile-journey-n1269293). Running out of food in their southern nature reserve, they are heading north.

But look, it's one thing to Ooo and Ahh over elephants in a wildlife documentary, but to face off a hungry herd of them heading for your village—no thanks! For days and nights now these 12 adult pachyderms and their three calves have been roaming up roads and tearing up fields, leaving a trail of ruin now estimated at $1.1 million of damage according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua.

“Local governments in Yunnan, which borders Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar, have used roadblocks and tons of food to try to shift the elephants' course over recent weeks while evacuating residential areas” (ibid). But all to no avail.

But what’s this have to do with the Bible? Nothing really. There are no elephants by name mentioned in Scripture, although every picture I’ve seen of Noah’s ark has an elephant couple headed for the gangplank. But it does say much about “the Maker of all things” to recognize that these gray wrinkled creatures came straight off His designing board and onto this primordial planet.

And any Creator who designs and loves not just elephants, but giraffes and baboons and kangaroos and sperm whales, to name some noteworthy representatives of nature’s animal kingdom, is obviously a Lover of beauty as well as diversity.

Why take a look at us humans. But then that’s the point. Diversity has been “the Maker of all things” modus operandi from “in the beginning.” And over the next four Sabbaths as we zero on four of His creatures (see if you can guess which four by the homily titles), the Creator will be teaching us some pretty important lessons, no just about the animals He loves, but about the people, He crafted, designed and placed on this terrestrial ball “for such a time as this.”

I hope you love animals—because this will be a series for people who do—and for the rest of us who need to learn to love them, too—just like “the Maker of all things [who] loves and wants [you and] me.”