Legend has it that many years ago there was a South African king of the Zulu tribe named Shaka the Lion. When Europeans began to establish themselves in that country, it is said that Shaka didn’t die—he simply went to sleep, to be awakened one day and resume his powerful rule over his people. At least that’s the way the legend was recounted by famous American folk singer, Pete Seeger, on his album With Voices Together We Sing (Live).
Even many younger people today are familiar with the bass chant, “Wimoweh, uh-wimoweh, uh-wimoweh, uh-wimoweh,” over which float the haunting falsetto lyrics, “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.” Pete Seeger created the word “wimoweh” as he transcribed the words to the song off an album made by a South African singing group, The Evening Birds. The word Seeger transcribed as wimoweh was really uyimbube, Zulu for “you are a lion”—a reference to the legendary Shaka the Lion.
An Oldie but a Goodie
Shaka the Lion was an old king who was expected to awaken to a good purpose. And “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is definitely an oldie and a goodie in the annals of popular music. But did you know that God had an “oldie but a goodie” near the beginning of recorded history—from whom we can learn a valuable lesson about being awakened for a new and good purpose in God’s kingdom?
God’s oldie was a man named Noah, one of the most familiar and famous individuals in the Bible. The days of Noah were dark ones on the good earth God had created. God’s kingdom had been invaded by sin. Looking around, God could find no reason to rejoice in what He had made and no reason to preserve it. No reason, that is, except for a man named Noah.
Noah was nearing his six-hundredth birthday when God came to him with a mission to save the world. We know absolutely nothing about the first six hundred years of Noah’s life except that he was “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God” (Genesis 6:9, NLT). He had labored unremarkably for the first two-thirds of his life and was approaching “retirement age.” But then God’s call awakened him.
Noah was advanced in years, and yet Noah said “Yes” to God. He was like a lion that had slept for six hundred years and was then awakened to fulfill his true calling and destiny.
A Time for Lions to Awake
Noah lived to be 950 years old and was 600 when the great Flood came upon the earth. If we use 100 years as a modern human lifespan, an equivalent age for Noah’s calling would be just over 63—right about the time many Westerners are thinking about retiring and “taking it easy.”
As I look out over the “mighty” church, I see many lions and lionesses of God who are asleep in a world not unlike Noah’s. They served God quietly and faithfully for five, six, or seven decades but have assumed that because of their age and place in life it is time for them to nap, time to rest from their labors.
I pray that God might awaken each one who thinks the days of fruitful service in the kingdom are past because of their age or station in life.
“Uyimbube”—You Are a Lion
If you have time, strength, and resources that will allow you to find a “second career” in the second half of life, ask God to help you discover that career. It might be as a volunteer in some aspect of your church’s ministry. Or it might mean taking your witness for Christ into your community in some capacity. Or it might be writing, or praying, or creating for the benefit of others. Or it might even mean going to another culture on a long- or short-term basis to spread the Gospel of Christ to those who have yet to hear.
Do not let your years be a limitation. Noah did the most important work of his life just as he approached retirement age! And the same can be true of you. You’ve spent decades accumulating wisdom and knowledge and understanding. And now is the time to let your voice be heard.
David Jeremiah is the host and founder of Turning Point and serves as the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. For more information about Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
It was the last day of the state high school track and field championships. The most anticipated race would be the men’s 400-meter sprint. Two rivals were on deck: Billy Davis and Ricky Hall. Billy had won the majority of the races in which the two had met during their high school careers. But Ricky was having a stellar senior season. It was Billy’s race to win, but Ricky, the underdog, was the crowd favorite.
When the starter’s gun fired, the crowd erupted with screams. By the 200-meter mark, Billy was leading by a few strides. But suddenly, as if he shifted into overdrive, Ricky moved past Billy and around the last turn steadily increased his lead.
Suddenly, Billy grabbed the back of his right knee, slowing to a hobble and collapsing on the track. As Billy writhed on the track, Ricky broke the tape in victory. Everybody wondered: Did Billy Davis suffer an actual injury in the last stretch of the race, or did he feign a pulled hamstring once he saw he was going to lose?“Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut!”
Sometimes you feel like a nut!
Sometimes you don’t!
Almond Joy’s got nuts
I can’t help but smile when I read those words. First, let me say that they are the copyrighted property of the Hershey Foods company who makes two of the most popular candy bars in American culture: Almond Joy and Mounds.
The wacky TV commercials used to advertise the two bars played for a couple of decades, and “Sometimes you feel like a nut!” became part of American culture. The commercials always pictured happy people doing funny things and always left you feeling like having a candy bar! Even the name of the Almond Joy is indicative of how one is supposed to feel when enjoying the candy: joyful!Ultimate Rescue
If you have seen images of men and women reaching out to help people during times of tragedy and need, you have seen that rescuers live with a sense of urgency, for reaching those who are hurt and in danger is an imminent crisis. We commend their selfless devotion to helping whether it is a hurricane, a flood, or a fire—they are there. But for eternity, Jesus is the Ultimate Rescuer. At just the right moment, He rappelled into history, descending from heaven into a dark, dangerous, and despairing world to rescue the perishing.
After His resurrection, rather than remain on earth, He commissioned His followers to go in His Name, seeking the lost and making disciples. That mission has made its way down to you and me, and we need a divine sense of urgency because we don’t know how much longer before Christ comes again. You and I are God’s ultimate rescuers—bringing people to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Knowing what to do in times of crisis is the mark of a great leader. Knowing how to behave in times of crisis? That’s the duty of every believer. Dr. David Jeremiah considers how Joseph managed the many crises he faced in his life, with principles we can apply when trouble arises in our lives.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah