One of the books I am currently reading is a biography of David Livingstone (a missionary to Africa in the mid-1800s) entitled “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone” (written by Jay Milbrandt).  Here is an excerpt from chapter 2, early in his missionary life…

“His most infamous narrow escape (referring to Dr. Livingstone) had come at the jaws of a lion.  In an African village paralyzed by the beasts, terrified villagers ran to Livingstone seeking his hunting skill to kill the lion.  Livingstone had encountered lions before – he once helplessly witnessed a woman ‘devoured in her garden’.

“At the villagers’ request, Livingstone set out, gun over his shoulder, to track the lion.  As he walked alone across the valley to track the beast, the lion found him first.  Livingstone lifted his gun, aimed, and fired both barrels.  BANG!  A direct hit.  But not a kill shot.  Startled, the giant cat turned in defense.  As Livingstone rushed to reload, the lion rushed him.  Pouncing with a great leap, the lion’s teeth sank into Livingstone’s left shoulder as it tackled him to the ground.  Growling, the beast violently shook him ‘as a terrier dog shaking a rat’.

“‘It caused a sort of dreaminess,’ Livingstone recalled.  He felt no pain or terror.  ‘I was quite conscious of all that was happening… It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation, but feel not the knife.’

“Livingstone thought the moment would be his last as he painlessly watched his approaching death in slow motion.

“Unexpectedly, an old African man appeared on the scene with a gun and fired both barrels.  The gun jammed.  Yet the noise distracted the lion from Livingstone, drawing its attention to the old man.  The lion released Livingstone, leaping at the man and driving its teeth deep into his thigh.  Then it turned to attack another native, biting him in the shoulder.  Amidst the commotion, the lion succumbed to the wounds inflicted by Livingstone’s initial gunshot.

“The beast fell to the ground and Livingstone rose to his feet.  Shattered and bearing 11 permanent tooth scars, his arm would never fully heal or again rise higher than his shoulder.  Despite injury, the attack transcended the physical – Livingstone became fearless.  Death no longer scared him.

“‘The shake annihilated fear,’ Livingstone reflected, ‘and allowed no sense of horror in looking round at the beast.  This peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by the carnivore; and if so, is a merciful provision be our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death.’

“Punctuated by the lion encounter, Missionary Travels (a report written by Livingstone for his people back home in England) sold an astonishing 70,000 copies.  Livingstone was not only famous, but fever gripped England.

“A best-selling book now made Livingstone not only famous but rich as well.  He set aside money to take care of his family, who had mostly lived in squalor while he was away.  From rags to riches, Livingstone now possessed financial security, social respect, and modern comforts.  He had it all; he had become an icon.”

It had appeared to be the darkest day of his life… but resulted in the opportunity to do the mission work he would do for the rest of his life.

You may be going through a tough time today, but hang on.  This day may be necessary in order for tomorrow to be the great day of opportunity it may be!


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