It is a Masai elder who tells the story. It comes from the book, CHRISTIANITY REDISCOVERED, in which the Roman Catholic missionary, Vincent Donovan, shares his discoveries as he worked among Masai people in Tanzania, just south of Kenya.
Donovan had been working among the various communities of the Masai for many months. It was difficult work, and at times, his faith faltered. At one point, Donovan spoke with a Masai elder about the agony of belief and unbelief. In their conversation, the Masai elder pointed out that the word Donovan had been using in Swahili to convey the word "faith" was not a very good word in their language.
The word they were using for "faith" meant literally, "to agree to." Donovan acknowledged that he knew the word was not a good one to translate the word "faith." The Masai elder said that to believe like that was similar to a white hunter shooting an animal from a great distance. Only his eyes and his finger got into it.
The Masai elder then said that for one to really believe is more like a lion going after its prey. The lion's nose and ears sense the prey. He sniffs the air and locates it. Then he crouches, and slithers along the ground virtually invisible. We have never seen lions do this, but we have seen our cats. Same lineage, apparently.
A cat thinks it becomes invisible as it stalks the prey. The lion gets into position, and when everything is optimum, the lion pounces. All the power of his body is involved and as the animal goes down, the lion envelopes it in his arms, pulls it to himself, and makes it a part of himself. This, said the elder, is the way one believes, making faith a part of oneself!
Donovan nodded in complete agreement, almost overcome with the elder's wisdom. But the elder was not done yet. The old Masai became thoughtful. Then he said to Donovan: "We did not search you out, Padri. We did not even want you to come to us. You searched us out. You told us of the High God. You told us we must search for the High God. But we have not done this. Instead, the High God has searched us out and found us! All the time we think we are the lion. In the end, the lion is God!"
From a sermon by Norm Lawson, Central Protestant Church, Richland, Washington