How a Lizard Taught Me to Love Boldly
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What – How a Lizard Taught Me to Love Boldly
You know I miss Snowball when I’m holding my son’s pet lizard. Yeah, it’s a lizard. Snowball, our family dog of 11 years, was tragically killed March 2nd. I’m struggling. I miss him every day. In the span of 9 months, I transitioned to a new role in minstry, moved my daughter 7 hours away to college, and lost our dog. I’m embracing this new season in my life, but not without it’s share of bumps and bruises. The pendulum of emotions swings wildly some days…excitement, sadness, anxiety, even downright frustration. However, I’m determined to meet God in the messy moments of life, so it just means I’m more dependent than ever on the sustaining grace of God.
So, you might ask, how did all that lead to you holding a lizard? A bearded dragon, to be exact. We purchased him (him? her? can you really tell?) years ago for my son, who at the time aspired to be a zoologist. After observing an owner carrying one around in his hoodie, my son decided it was the pet for him. As the novelty wore off, however, the lizard spent less and less time out of his cage and became more of an exhibit than a family pet. (well, he is a scaly reptile, after all). Apparently, though, when you’re missing your daughter and your dog, somehow a bearded dragon becomes a strange substitution. I dote on him, make sure he has crickets, and even purchased a better heat lamp to make sure he isn’t too cold. (I might actually be losing it, now that I read the words I’m typing.) Anyway, last week I saw a cute video of someone who took their lizard outside to “see the sun for the first time.” He looked so cute, head bobbing up and down to take in the light and warmth of this new experience. So, in this new phase I’m in of nurtutring this lizard, I told my husband and my son that I thought he would like to go outside and see the sun.
They had the same reaction that I’m picturing you’re having reading this. But they humored me, and outside we went. I asked them to stay close, anticipating his desire to make a run for it in the open air. We set him gently on the green grass. Nothing. A minute passed, five minutes passed…he didn’t even move. Thinking he might not like this as much as I thought he would, I picked him up and set him on my knee, and made a stark realization. He had been in his cage so long, that he had no idea he could move freely outdoors. He didn’t even try. He has adapted so completely to his surroundings that – even when offered a chance at freedom and a new experience – he didn’t budge. His little clawed feet were trying to make sense of the prickly green carpet. He was probably scared in his new surroundings. Fresh air and open road? He wasn’t having it.
I put him safely back in his cage, but not before he taught me an interesting lesson.
I wonder how often we adapt to the safety our comfortable surroundings, to the point that we don’t even take the freedom when it’s offered? What might we be missing out on because we aren’t willing to step foot onto unfamiliar ground?
Just this past weekend, I was privileged to sit under the teaching of Dr. Beth Grant, founder of Project Rescue. For nearly 40 years, she and her husband, David, have worked tirelessly to rescue girls from sexual slavery in India. To say she challenged my comfortable surroundings is an understatement. She described the harrowing ordeal her husband endured, falsely accused and imprisoned for days in one of India’s harshest prisons. She passionately conveyed the plight of these women sold into sexual slavery, some as young as 12 years of age. She pleaded with us to love boldly, not just with emotion, but with action. And she made a statement I’ll never forget:
“What is the area of darkness God is calling you to?”
Loving boldly is hard. It’s risky. It’s messy. But God is calling us out of our comfortable, safe surroundings, to permeate the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ. Uncomfortable? Absolutely. But what might we be missing out on because we aren’t willing to step foot onto unfamiliar ground?
I don’t know what this looks like for you, but my family is stepping onto new patches of prickly grass. My son is engaging in conversation with his biology teacher about the theories of creationism and evolutionism. My daughter is exploring the option of transferring from a small, comfortable university to a large, secular university with a challenging program she’s been accepted into. My husband and I are stepping out with church plants in El Salvador and Ghana, West Africa, and asking God for new strategies for this next season of our ministry and marraige. It’s so much easier to stay comfortable, but man, what we might be missing.
If we want to “Make Our Lives Matter No Matter What,” we are going to have to step out of our comfortable spaces and into the darkness. Perhaps it’s a missions trip, or becoming a foster parent. Perhaps it’s engaging in that conversation you’re avoiding, or taking that class that will propel you to the next level in your career. God offers us freedom to become all He has created us to be and take His grace into dark places. The brothels of India…the halls of our public schools…the water coolers of our workplaces. What is the area of darkness God is calling you to?
Step scared – God is with you. Loving boldly requires us to be more dependent on God’s sustaining grace, but every step is worth it.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What