In 2008, wildlife researchers made a startling discovery deep in the forests of the Republic of Congo. They found 125,000 gorillas they didn’t know existed! Prior to this, experts estimated the number of gorillas to be less than 100,000. These newly discovered gorillas more than doubled that number. That’s a lot of bananas.
Gorillas are not small and neither is a group of 125,000 of them, so how did this herd stay hidden for so long? It couldn’t have been on purpose. They were just living wild and free in an 18,000 square mile jungle. They didn’t post lookouts to warn the herd about planes and helicopters (wait … is that what they are doing when they pound their chests … making a helicopter sound?). Even if they did post lookouts, 125,000 gorillas wouldn’t be able to take cover at a moment’s notice. Either the researchers never really checked the area, or they didn’t check it that well.
It makes me question the other certainties that get served up to us on a daily basis by all the experts. If they can miss a gorilla herd larger than the size of most American city populations, what else have they missed? Experts are just like the rest of us -- we don’t know as much as we think we know and we have a tendency to overlook things that are right in front of us. No wonder we had such a hard time finding Osama Bin Laden.
Realizing that highly trained experts can look for something for years and still miss it makes me wonder what I might be missing. Do I have gorillas hiding in plain sight? How many unkind, ungodly or insensitive behavioral traits do I have that irritate, offend or put off other people? Just because I am not aware of them, doesn’t mean they are not there.
Could it be I’m not really checking, or not checking that well? If so, I will find the gorillas only after they have done some damage. David’s prayer in Psalm 139 would be a good way to start looking, “Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” To continue growing in the Lord I need to be aware of my gorillas.
I also need to be aware of God’s blessings. The thick jungle of activity in my life hinders my vision and prevents me from seeing much of what is all around me, whether they be gorillas or blessings. Regarding the blessings, I think it is time for me to take a machete and go exploring. This is what Johnson Oatman meant back in 1897 when he wrote, Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. If I am not looking for His blessings, I may not see them – but they are always there. Sometimes, I choose to focus on what I deem missing from my life, which keeps me from appreciating what He has made present.
When cornered by the Syrian soldiers, Elijah knew he was also surrounded by a host of fiery angelic chariots. But his frightened servant did not. So Elijah prayed for him, Open his eyes that he may see. We too should pray for God to open our eyes to what He has done for us, what He is doing for us, and what in our conduct is not pleasing to Him. It’s all in plain sight, but our eyes are often closed.
Find what is hiding in plain sight,