When visiting the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape some years ago, we were privileged to witness two very brave Blacksmith Lapwings defend their nest. My husband and I were sitting in the underground hide at the main camp, enjoying watching a herd of elephants drinking water at the water hole. The pair of Blacksmith Lapwings had laid their eggs on the ground, close to the hide, and their diligence in watching over the eggs was to be admired. The male would sit on the eggs while the female went off to feed (not far off). She would return to the nest site by landing on the opposite bank, and then she would quietly meander around the water hole and move toward the nest. As she approached the nest, the male would get up off the eggs and fly away in the opposite direction. The female would walk over to the eggs and very unobtrusively sit down on them. The two parent birds were very careful to approach the nest from different angles all the time so as to distract any would be enemies. Their tactic seemed to work beautifully. None of the smaller creatures around the water hole took any notice of the Blacksmith Lapwings.

Most of the elephants were on the opposite bank of the water hole. There was one young bull elephant hoping to catch the eye of a young female elephant. He kept mock charging her and interrupting her enjoyment of the water. Eventually the Matriarch of the herd had had enough of him. With a toss of her head she chased him out of the water and straight onto the bank where the Blacksmith Lapwings nest was. He lumbered up onto the grassy area heading straight for the Lapwings and their eggs! The Blacksmith Lapwings did not hesitate! The female flew straight towards him, while the male spread his wings wide and stood his ground facing the oncoming elephant. The female flew around the elephant uttering her high pitched shriek and her partner echoed the shriek. The elephant seemed not to notice them, and headed straight to where the eggs lay. To avoid being stood on, the male Lapwing flew up over the elephants head. We could see that the eggs were doomed. The next step the elephant would take would crush them.  But then the young bull, still moving forward, cast his eyes down to the ground, and on seeing the eggs, carefully stepped over them, before continuing on his way. The Blacksmith Lapwings practically fell out of the sky onto the nest. They ruffled their feathers a little and then continued with their routine. We sighed a huge sigh of relief and marveled at the bravery of the two birds.

To me this episode was a reminder of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. The whole Israelite army was filled with fear because of the size of Goliath, and the taunts that came from his mouth. So often we become intimidated by the sheer size of a difficulty or the ‘words’ people of importance have spoken over us. We limit our abilities and our progress because, rather than standing up to our ‘Giants’, we give way and lie low. The little Blacksmith Plovers did not compare their size to that of the elephant. They did what they instinctively knew to do, and then trusted their Maker. Yes, the outcome was victorious for them, and ours may not always turn out the way we would like it to. But it is always better to face our “Giants ” than to be cowered by them. And we always have the choice of facing our “Giants” with God on our side. David said to Goliath “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty… For the battle is the LORDS, and He will give you into my hands.”(1 Samuel 17:45-46) David triumphed not because of his own cunning or strength, but because he knew instinctively that he needed to defend the LORD’S name and that the glory would go to God! When we face our “Giants” in the name of God, no matter the outcome, we can trust Him and give Him the glory!



September 17, 2016

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