On Sunday morning we were picked up at 7 a.m. by “A’s” father and headed southwest through the outskirts of Chiang Mai into farmland that was lush with crops; some ready for harvest. Some of the workers were harvesting onions, putting them into sacks and loading them on to trucks so they could be sold at the market. I saw a great lesson in this. Cultivation, planting, watering, tending the growing crops, and then harvesting are all a process that is going on simultaneously. So it is with the Lord’s work. If we forget one of these elements in doing the Lord’s work we will miss the unity of the Spirit’s work in the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 3:5-9). This work is in “God’s field” for “God’s building” (3:9).
Leaving the farming plain, we climbed a winding road through forests into a lush valley where we reached a small village and turned onto a local road. It was only a short distance to the elephant farm and still early in the morning before other tourists and visitors arrived. We walked to the field and pole shelter where the elephants were pegged by one foot with a chain to the ground. I have no doubt that their strength could rip these pegs from the ground, but it is enough of a reminder that there are limits to their freedom. The workers walked freely among them arranging them for the day’s work. There were also two baby elephants loose that stayed very close to their mothers. One was a year old and the other two years. Later I saw the mothers giving visitors a ride and the babies followed right at their side. After observing the workers handle the elephants, we climbed up a platform so we could easily mount these huge animals and start our ride. A seat was strapped to the elephant’s back and we carefully stepped onto its shoulders to get seated. I was able to touch her tough hide---what an experience! A handler sat on the elephants head giving verbal commands to the elephant as we headed along a ravine and up steep slopes into the hills above the farm.
The ease with which the handler controls this huge animal reminded me of the contrast James makes between horses, ships and our tongue. We must conclude that this small member of our bodies that is influenced by the human will (apart from the Holy Spirit) can do more damage than these powerful animals. We were amazed by their strength and sure-footed ability. Since she hadn’t been fed yet, this elephant had her feast along the way; pulling at vines, plants and trees until the handler commanded it to move on. At the end of the ravine we turned and went up a trail that was very steep. You can imagine the sense of wonder as we sat on top (already 10 to 12 feet in the air) and then going up this trail, putting us even higher off the ravine below. God has made their feet so they mold to the surface they are walking on. Even the rocks became anchors for their feet to grab as we felt the enormous strength of this creature under us. What an exhilarating opportunity which I have never experienced before and will never forget!
To be continued....