Swimming Frogs & a Sticky Lizard

I have always been afraid of hurting small and defenseless animals.

Girls camp, 1994, I think it was.  The outdoor swimming pool.

I don’t remember when we first noticed it, but there it was: a green, “elasticky” thing thrashing gracefully through the water.

“IT’S A FROG!” a girl shouted.

“IT’S GOING TO DIE!” I said.  “FROGS CAN’T LIVE IN CHLORINE!”

I turned to one of the braver girls.  “Pick it up!” I said.  “You have to get it out of the pool!”

“Ok,” she said.  She scooped the frog up and carried it to the side.

One frog saved.

This was only the beginning.

Frog after frog jumped into the water, and time after time, I swam to girls, begging them to pick the frog up and carry it to the side.  When one girl was through with helping the frogs, I’d go to another.  I pleaded with them until at last all the frogs were out of the swimming pool.

There was a question I got asked, a very reasonable question, actually:

“Why don’t you do it?”

How could I explain how terrified I was that I would mess up the rescue?  I’m afraid I’ll hurt it.  I’m afraid I’ll kill it.  I’m afraid it will die in my hands before I’m able to get it out of the water.

I hated outdoor swimming pools after that.

And I scorned myself for what a coward I was.  As badly as I had wanted to save those frogs, I had let my fear shut me down.  I was so afraid of messing things up, I wasn’t even able to try to help.

That was me until, years later, I met an itty bitty blue lizard named Risk.

I met the lizard in a place I would rather not meet lizards (or any small creatures, really): our garage.

This was not, unfortunately, completely strange.  Little animals have a knack for finding their way inside garages.  But as I looked longer at this tiny azure reptile, I realized something was wrong, for the simple fact that I was able to look longer.

Risk wasn’t running away.  He was trying very hard, in fact, but he wasn’t able.

I could see now the problem.  He had gotten entangled in a spider web and it was stuck to his tail, forcing him to stay on a leash of death.

I was almost paralyzed by the fear that I would hurt him.  I was afraid if I tried to help him, he would die, or his tail would be pulled off.

But, at last, working up my courage, I tried to rip the spiderweb away.  I dragged Risk by the sticky strand I had broken off until he was outside the door.  Then, with a few more valiant tugs on his part, he freed his tail from the web and ran away.

“Abstract” reenactment of Risk and I. Yes, Risk was blue. No, I did not get to hold him in my hand. But I think this picture shows how we felt about each other.

I felt like a hero, and if somebody had given me a cape, I probably would have put it on.  While no reporters came to snap photographs or interview me, I felt pretty famous just the same–not to the multitudes, but to one tiny blue lizard.

God used Risk in my life to show me the rescue is worth the risk.

Sometimes it’s hard to share my faith, especially one on one.  I’m afraid of being rejected.  Sometimes I’m afraid that when I tell people I follow Jesus, they’ll see the sin I still have in my life, and I’ll turn them away from God rather than towards Him.  Sometimes I’m afraid I won’t say the right words, do the right acts to show them they have a loving Savior ready to rescue them.

But that doesn’t mean I stop and wait for other people to do all the rescuing.  It doesn’t mean I give money to missionaries and tell them to do my witnessing for me.  It doesn’t mean I invite people to church to hear my pastor preach and stop there.  It doesn’t work that way.

God has given each and every one of His followers a mission field.  We are all called to give the Message of rescue through Jesus Christ to everyone hanging out in Satan’s poisonous lies and to everyone struggling to break free from Satan’s web of control.

The stakes are too high for us to be paralyzed by fear that we might fail.  Because the stakes are the souls of people everywhere.  Souls infinitely more precious than a tiny blue lizard.

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. (Galatians 1:4, NLT)

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22, ESV)

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes (Romans 1:16a, NLT)

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Photograph by Tataquax

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

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