“The Taller They Are, The Harder They Fall” by Parker Williamson. The Layman Vol 38, No 2. June 2005. pg 1+
Keywords: pride, sin, hubris
“Do you know how the lion brings down a giraffe?” asked the Rev. Dr. David Githii, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. Nelson, Githii’s driver, shifted uncomfortably in the seat of his Land Cruiser. Nelson’s name in the Kikuyu language is “The Lion.”
On our way to visit churches in the Rift Valley [in Kenya], a plain that lies between the lofty ridges of now-extinct volcanoes running through Kenya and Tanzania, Githii described the kill. It happens, he said, when the giraffe lowers its head at the watering hole. At that moment, the lion leaps for theneck, digs in with his claws and holds on with all his might. The predator’s weight does the rest, for if the giraffe cannot lift its head above its heart it will die in a matter of minutes.
The heart of a giraffe is a super-powered pump. It must generate an enormous blood pressure in order to fuel the brain of such a long-necked animal. But when the giraffe’s head is down, the pressure is too great. A small valve restrains it for a few seconds, long enough for the animal to drink, but if the head does not come up quickly, the valve will blow – resulting in instant death.
I was struck with the irony of that animal’s plight. His greatest asset, a powerfully pumping heart, can kill him. On the plain, the giraffe’s lethal kick can send a pride of lions flying, crushing the cats’ bones with each deadly blow. No lion can contest flailing hooves that can kick frontward, backward and even sideways with amazing strength. But if the head goes down for more than a few seconds, the giraffe is dead.
Scripture teaches us what the giraffe’s perilous plight so clearly illumines: In our greatest strength lies the secret to our weakness. Pride can move us to strive for excellence, to be the best that we can be, to soar to the top of the organizational pecking order. But that same pride, unchecked by humility, can bring down the highest achiever.
A person’s devotion to others and sensitivity to human feelings can open the door to unchaste affections. A brilliant mind can outrun student receptivity and alienate the very persons it had hoped to teach. Lofty ideals lead to ideologies that energize the beast within us and destroy the soul. In pursuit of noble causes, humans have done their most inhuman deeds. Like the lion in the tall grass, disaster stalks our idealism, energy and ambition.