Many years ago in England, a circus elephant named Bozo was very popular with the public. Children especially loved to crowd around his cage and throw him peanuts. Then one day, there was a sudden change in the elephant’s personality. Several times he tried to kill his keeper. When children came near his cage, he would charge toward them as if wanting to trample them to death. It was obvious he would have to be destroyed. The circus owner, a greedy and crude man, decided to stage a public execution of the animal. In this way, he could sell tickets and try to recoup some of the cost of losing such a valuable property.

    The day came and the huge circus tent was packed. Bozo, in his cage, was in the center ring. Nearby stood a firing squad with high-powered rifles. The manager, standing near the cage, was ready to give the signal to fire, when out of the crowd came a short, inconspicuous man in a brown derby hat.

    “There is no need for this,” he told the manager quietly.

    The manager brushed him aside. “He is a bad elephant. He must die before he kills someone.”

    “You are wrong,” insisted the man with the hat. “Give me two minutes in the cage alone with him and I will prove you are wrong.”

    The manager turned and stared in amazement. “You will be killed,” he said.

    “I don’t think so,” said the man. “Do I have your permission?”

    The manager, being the kind of man he was, was not one to pass up such a dramatic spectacle. Even if the man were killed, the publicity alone would be worth millions. “All right,” he said, “but first you will have to sign a release absolving the circus of all responsibility.”

    The small man signed the paper. He removed his coat and hat preparing to enter the cage. The manager told the people what was about to happen. A hush fell over the crowd. The door to the cage was unlocked. The man stepped inside. The door was locked behind him.

    At the sight of this stranger in his cage, the elephant threw back his trunk, let out a might roar, then bent his head preparing to charge. The man stood quite still. A faint smile crossed his face as he began to talk to the animal. The audience was so quiet, that those nearest the cage could hear the man talking, but couldn’t make out the words. He seemed to be speaking some foreign language. Slowly, as the man continued to talk, the elephant raised his head. Then the crowd heard an almost piteous cry from the elephant, as his enormous head began to sway gently from side to side. Smiling, the man walked confidently to the animal and began to stroke the long trunk. All aggression seemed suddenly to have been drained from the elephant. Docile as a pup, he wound his trunk around the man’s waist and the two walked slowly around the ring.

    The astounded audience could bear the silence no longer and broke out in cheers and clapping. After awhile, the man said farewell to the elephant and left the cage. “He’ll be all right now,” he told the manager. “You see, he’s an Indian elephant, and none of you spoke his language, Hindustani. I would advise you to get someone around here who speaks Hindustani. He was just homesick.”

    And with that, the little man put on his coat and hat and left. The astounded manager looked down at the slip of paper in his hand. The name the man had signed was Rudyard Kipling.

    As Christians, we have every right to act like Bozo the elephant. We should be longing for home as well — an eternal home prepared for us by our Savior Jesus. Paul’s heart looked forward to heaven with great joy. He shared his joy with fellow believers in Philippi:

“I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. All of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, too...Many people live like enemies of the cross of Christ. In the end, they will be destroyed. They do whatever their bodies want, they are proud of their shameful acts, and they think only about earthly things. But our homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. By his power to rule all things, he will change our simple bodies and make them like his own glorious body.” (Philippians 3:12-15a, 18a, 19-21 NCV)

    Jesus Christ will return to take His children to their inheritance. Until that day, we long for His return, homesick for our eternal residence with our Savior.



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