Listen to this nature story:
Boldness Illustrated in the World of Nature
Boldness is basing decisions on what is right rather than on what is safe.
An adult black rhino lingered in the cool mud of his newly discovered water hole. He had covered himself from head to tail with the black ooze, yet the heat of the day forced him back to the water hole each time he tried to leave. Other animals had interrupted him, but for the most part, he had enjoyed the solitude and security of the pool by himself.
It was not uncommon for a rhinoceros of his size and power to occupy this popular source of natural air-conditioning for several hours at a time. He had often rested there to escape the biting flies and ticks that attacked his sensitive skin. Though others wanted to share the water, every animal on the plains of Africa knew it was the rhino’s right to be there. He ruled the water hole.
There is no telling how long he might have stayed if it had not been for a strange, distant sound. The rhino’s ears twisted back and forth like beacons searching for clues about the source of this unnatural racket. Stretching forward to squeeze every last vibration out of the air, in a matter of seconds his ears had pinpointed the direction from which the noise was coming.
With a squeal and a colossal spray of water, out of the pool he came! His immense hulk darted forward with surprising agility. Tall grass stood shoulder-high. It was impossible to see what was out there. All the rhino knew was that something did not belong.
Without hesitation or thought for his own safety, he charged. The grass parted around the point of his horn and fell to the ground under the power of his feet. Behind him lay a flattened, mud-covered trail as wide as a boat. On he came, head down, neck outstretched. He pointed his horn straight toward his intended—but unseen—target.
Then he stopped. His thunderous hooves stood quietly as his ears searched beyond the wall of grass. He seemed confused. The noisy splashes of the water had masked the sound of the intruder, and for a moment—only a moment—the rhino paused. The sound grew louder. Taking only an instant to correct his direction of attack, he continued the charge. What had first sounded like a solid hum was now punctuated with honking sounds and high-pitched screams. A strong, unfamiliar stench of diesel fumes floated above the grass. The rhino had never before experienced such an offensive and obnoxious intrusion into his natural world. He could still not see what it was, yet he plunged headlong through the thick grass.
Not more than 10 yards in front of him, the grass ended abruptly. Nothing could have prepared the rhino for what he saw. Whizzing in front of his face was the strangest thing. It moved so fast his eyes could not focus on any single part of it. It had what looked like short, stubby legs with two wide-set eyes and a black mouth without a nose.
Nevertheless, the rhino knew this intruder did not belong in his world. With a courageous surge of boldness, he plowed headlong into this unknown foe. Booooom! There was a grinding sound of steel crumpling against steel.
Boooom! The rhino swung his heavy head into his victim a second time. Undaunted by the foe’s apparent toughness and the splitting pain in his own head, the rhino charged a third time. Booom!
Air hissed loudly as the rhino’s horn punctured a tire. Shouts of fear rang out as the rhino whipped its head up into the air and flipped the strange intruder on its side. The offensive sound of the intruder sputtered and then . . . everything grew silent.
Stunned, the rhino’s knees buckled, and he dropped to the ground. Broken glass, a crumpled door and fenders, and slivers of chrome molding littered the grass. Slowly, the rhino regained his rattled senses. Shaking his head, he turned and disappeared back into the grass—leaving behind a demolished vehicle and several unwelcomed poachers.
Charging a moving automobile was not the safest thing to do, but protecting his home against intruders that threatened its peace and security was the right thing to do. Rhinos are known to charge butterflies, bullfrogs, and occasionally their own shadows, but their boldness to risk life and limb in defense of their territory cannot be questioned.
From the Pages of Scripture
As two friends approached the Temple one day, a beggar heard their footsteps and called out: “Alms? Alms for the poor?” This beggar, a middle-aged man, was lame; in fact, he had been crippled from birth. Often, those who passed by would stop and press into his hand a coin made of copper or silver or sometimes—very rarely, though—gold.
The sound of footsteps stopped. Squinting because of the bright sunlight, the beggar was uncomfortable under the gaze of the man who stood closest to him. The lame man heard him say: “I do not have any silver or gold for you today, but I will share with you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”
The man took the lame man by the right hand and lifted him up. Immediately, the lame man’s feet and ankle bones were healed and strengthened.
For the first time in his life, the healed man was standing without any assistance! Then he had an urge to leap, and . . . he did that too! The beggar ran down the path by the Beautiful Gate, shouting praises to God, and a large crowd quickly gathered there. The beggar’s benefactor explained how this man had been healed, acknowledging that it was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Who had healed him. This same God had also glorified His Son, Jesus, the very One Whom they had crucified.
Soon priests, the captain of the Temple, and some Sadducees joined the crowd, but they were not there simply to listen. They had the two troublemakers arrested and held as prisoners until the next day. However, “many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).
The following day, the two friends were taken before the Sanhedrin, where they answered many questions. Their calm, confident, and even joyful demeanor puzzled their interrogators, who were used to seeing people cower before them. The two captives did not fear what man could do to them, for they were confident that what they were doing was right in the eyes of God.
The Sadducees were astonished to hear that Jesus, a Man Whom they had convinced Pilate to crucify almost two months earlier, was responsible for healing the lame man yesterday. How could that be? As Sadducees, they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Now their beliefs would certainly be scrutinized, because many people had witnessed the miracle.
The Sanhedrin ordered the two prisoners to never preach or teach in Jesus’ name again, but in response, the two men declared that they would continue to proclaim the truth. Fearful of the people’s reaction if they condemned these proclaimers unjustly, the Sanhedrin merely threatened the men and then released them.
The two men returned to the fellowship of believers and reported all that had happened to them. Together, they asked God to consider the threats against them and enable all of them to speak God’s Word more boldly than ever. Peter and John’s bold words and actions brought great glory to God!
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The very nature and character of God is seen all throughout His created universe. Job remarked, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7-8).
Each section of Character Sketches, Volume IV begins with a captivating “read-aloud” nature story that introduces the character quality being taught, including the one featured in this article. The printed volume continues with interesting facts on the featured species’ characteristics and physical features. This is followed by a story from Scripture that illustrates the character quality, along with background information on the individual or situation in the story, which is then summed up in a “character sketch.” Generously illustrated with stunning lifelike watercolor and pencil drawings, the oversized book (9 1/2″ by 12 3/4″) is available to order and will be treasured and enjoyed for generations.
The Character Sketches series is designed to be a tool that fathers can use to teach their children basic concepts of Scripture that are illustrated in the world of nature. Among our best-loved publications, hundreds of thousands have enjoyed the gripping stories and beautiful illustrations that the volumes contain.