Gazelles are members of the antelope family known for their large, lustrous eyes and graceful movements. Some of the fastest animals on earth, gazelles can run 60 miles per hour in short bursts and at a sustained speed of 30 miles per hour. They also can jump, using a distinctive behavior called “stotting” (leaping high into the air before fleeing) when predators like cheetahs pursue them. (If a cheetah chased me, I am pretty sure I would “stot” too.) Because these animals are quick, the business world applies the name gazelle to small companies marked by rapid growth.
Gazelles are gregarious animals, banding together in the wild. Because of their graceful appearance, ancient poets considered them a symbol of female beauty. The Bible’s romantic love poem includes, “Come away, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains” (Song of Songs 8:14). A seventh-century Persian poet named Caliph Abd al-Malik allegedly set free a gazelle he had captured because he thought the animal resembled his beloved. (I doubt that my wife would appreciate being compared to a small antelope.)
According to an article in the Scientific American, the gazelles that live in Israel and Palestine today are a species in trouble. Cars, roads, and predators have reduced the number of gazelles in the Holy Land “from an estimated population of 10,000 in the 1990s to about 2,000 today. As a result, the species will now likely be classified as endangered under Israeli law.”
Serving Those in Need
Isn’t it interesting that the Bible mentions a woman known as Gazelle? Her Hebrew name Tabitha and her Greek name Dorcas mean Gazelle in English. This gracious disciple of Christ had an exemplary reputation. “She was always doing good and helping the poor” (Acts 9:36). When she got sick and died, Peter hurried to the site. “All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them” (v. 39). The mourners held this dear woman’s legacy in their hands. Perhaps some of them were wearing garments Dorcas had made for them. When we die, will others glorify the Lord because of the legacy we left behind?
Cheerful servants like Dorcas are rare today—an endangered species—but thankfully, God’s gazelles still exist. I know a master mechanic who has a generous heart to match his skillful hands. Without fanfare he repairs cars for single moms and others who can’t afford to take their cars to expensive garages. His Samaritan’s Wrench ministry makes him one of God’s gazelles.
A group of Christian women meet in our church building on Wednesday mornings to sew, knit, and crochet. Their ministry is called Stitching Hope. They make hundreds of items each year including dolls, pillows, stuffed animals, bibs, shawls, and Christmas decorations. In a recent 12-month period these dozen volunteers made 364 blankets—almost one for every day of the year. The blankets end up in the hands of young mothers (distributed by a pregnancy care center in our city) or become warm, loving gifts for shut-ins and nursing home residents. The Stitching Hope ladies are God’s gazelles, making the most of their opportunities to serve.
Do you know any of God’s gazelles? Is he nudging you to become one yourself?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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