Some Things Just Cannot Be Explained! …Hello readers, I hope you enjoy this “elephant” story! It is about Lawrence and Francoise, a couple who bought an old game reserve that they turned into a sanctuary for elephants as well as leopards, zebras and the ever-so-close-to-extinction, white rhinos.
Lawrence was a man of faith and an avid creature-lover. He believed that all God’s creation mattered—even the pesky mosquito! When the Iraq war began, he sneaked into Baghdad to rescue trapped zoo animals. The U.S military soldiers even helped him to save them and he took them home to the reserve they called Thula-Thula Lodge in Ntambanana, South Africa.
Everyone called Lawrence the Elephant Whisperer because he earned the nickname after adopting a herd of nine “delinquent” elephants that were about to be put to death because the herd was prone to escaping its protected habitat and rampaging through populated areas which was dangerous to them and the people living there. To Lawrence, he felt that these beasts kept wandering because they weren’t in the right home!
Interestingly, he had NO knowledge of wild African elephants! So he camped out with them to earn their trust—singing and talking to them. Nana, the matriarch of the bunch was the first to embrace his friendship and the rest followed. He and Francoise were now part of their lives and the elephants stopped escaping and made Thula-Thula their home. With elephants it is all about trust and respect.
Sadly, Lawrence passed away a couple years later due to heart problems. The news hit Thula-Thula like a bomb—the staff of 70 was inconsolable. Lawrence wasn’t just their boss. His Zulu name was Mkhulu, or “grandfather.” That’s how everyone saw him—including the animals! Francoise didn’t want to face the unknown without him, she didn’t want to live in a world without his fierce spirit and generosity. Life without Lawrence–impossible!
A few days after his funeral she was holed up in her bedroom in deep grief; then she heard a loud shout: “They’re here!” Who was here she thought? A lot of commotion was going on. She came down to the porch to see 21 distinct gray shapes…the elephants! Nana gazed at her and so did the rest, as if they were waiting for something. This went on for more than an hour, then they began marching up and down along the fence, rumbling and making the same noise they’d always used to “talk” with Lawrence. They were sad and appeared to be grieving. Finally, they lined up one by one and made their solemn procession back into the African bush.
The work at Thula-Thula continues to this day as Lawrence would have wanted it to. The staff has changed, but the elephants?—they never forget. Every year, on March 4—the day Lawrence died, the elephants return to the porch, led by Nana in the exact same procession letting Francoise know they miss him and they are glad to have her. People ask Francoise ‘How did they know? Who sent them? What does it mean?’ She replies, “This is a faith moment. Remember, some things in this world are beyond human understanding—and cannot be explained by reason and cannot be seen except through the wisdom of our Almighty God.”
This endearing story reminds us of the power of God in us and all of creation. We, too, have times in our lives when we just can’t “explain something.” Like Lawrence and Francoise, we should not worry about it but embrace this extraordinary moment as a gift from God! O how God delights to give us gifts and surprise us beyond our human thinking!!
The Apostle James 1:16-18 wrote [MSG]: “So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.”
And in Matthew 7:11 [Voice] Jesus said “So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, how much more so does your Father in heaven, who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children!”
What a reminder of a great God who loves to lavish gifts on his beloved children. So, when you can’t explain something, don’t just toss it off as a coincidence. Instead, remember that God is always at work, and perhaps God may just want to send you some elephants to let you know you are loved and cared for, AMEN!