I woke up from a dream about Frishy this morning, and I was astonished to realize I have never written about him.  I checked back in my posts to be sure.  Sure enough, not one word has ever been said here about Frishy.

I don’t think I have any pictures of Frishy.  We had the click-and-develop-two-months-later kind of cameras when I was growing up, and you just didn’t take pictures of aquariums.  But I found a picture of the kind of frog Frishy was, and he looked strikingly similar to this one, except he was a silver green.

Frishy did not look the same as a regular frog.  That’s where Frishy’s name came in: Frog + Fishy.  Frishy’s scientific classification is the African Clawed Frog.  I never knew that.  I always thought he was just an African Frog (AF).  He did, come to think of it, have claws on his back webbed feet, but he never used them.  I reached in his aquarium cage (AF’s must have a lid on their aquarium) and petted him on different occasions.  He never had the least desire to scratch me.

As Wikipedia says, the AF is toothless and tongueless.  I never thought about the tongueless part, but it’s true.  They are, however, very agile with their hands.  I used to watch Frishy eat his Tetra mix pellets by holding them in between his dainty little hands.

I learned, just today, that the average life span of an AF is 5-15 years.  From the pet shop company Frishy was ordered, the life expectancy was stated to be only 1 year.  I would imagine, knowing what I know now from Wikipedia, the sole reason for this is care.

I had one friend who had an AF tell me she’d run out of pet food, with a rather forlorn look.

“Get more food,” I said.  She said didn’t know what kind of food AF’s ate once the mix, sent with the tadpole, ran out.

I told her what it was, where to buy it, and ordered her, over and over, to get her parents to take her to the pet shop that day.  Her frog had not eaten in two days.

Frishy’s lifespan was a huge surprise.  I was probably 8 when I got Frishy and about 17 when he died.  This was almost unbelievable to us after reading the fact sheet that came with Frishy.  (This was mostly before home internet, and so what I knew about Frishy was summed up in that little flip book.)

I never recommend for people to get an African frog.  In fact, I hope they don’t.  I grieve to think of them starved to death or flushed down a toilet when they’re of no interest to their owner anymore.

When Frishy died, he was buried in my yard with the conch shell he had so loved as a marker.  I couldn’t stand the thought of my little pet going down the toilet like useless waste.

Frogs in general are treated pretty bad in our society.  People see frogs as “pests”.  I see “pests” as animals.  That’s the difference, I guess.  I don’t look at a frog and see something that needs to be destroyed.  I look at a frog and see something that, like everything else here, has been damaged since the fall.  And it wasn’t even the frog’s fault.  It was our fault, for opening the world to Satan’s sin.  But somehow, we forget all about that and hate frogs.

I realized, early on, that it was pretty much hopeless to try to change the opinions of adults, but I could sway some children.  The best reaction I ever got came after one of my soapbox talks about how frogs have feelings.  A weak, shy nine-year-old girl share this story with me,

“One time I was riding my bike and I saw a frog.  This boy in my neighborhood wanted to kill the frog, but I said no and I picked up a stick and scared him away.  Then I put the frog in my bicycle basket and carried him to where he would be safe.”

Her story reminds me of why I cared so much about Frishy and his buddies.  It reminds me why I still dream about protecting him from bad things.

It’s the story of helplessness, utter vulnerability, daring rescue, and deep care.

Frishy made a deep imprint on my life because this was his story, but I didn’t know he was teaching me about something far beyond, far above, and long before he came to me as a tadpole.

The Bible shares an extraordinary story with us.  It has helpless, utterly vulnerable creatures in it, a daring rescue, and deep care.

The helpless, utterly vulnerable creatures aren’t African Frogs, though.  Although they are pests, and they are unwanted, and there is someone who wants to flush them all down the toilet, they are not frogs of any kind.  The helpless, utterly vulnerable creatures are . . us.

In comes the daring rescue.  God has no intention of letting Satan leave us in a tank somewhere to starve to death or flush us down the toilet.  God could, rightfully, wave His hand at us in disgust, walk away from us, and pay attention only to the creatures He made who didn’t choose ugly monstrosity and great frailty for themselves, like the angels.

But God didn’t walk away from the aquarium that sin has trapped us in and leave us to Satan as our caretaker (the caretaker we thought we wanted).

The little bit of compassion I felt for Frishy and desire to rescue him gives me a way to relate to God’s compassion and rescue for us.  If God didn’t give us experiences where we could feel compassion and the desire to rescue, I don’t know how we would ever relate to His compassion and rescue of us.

Of course, I recognize that my kindness to Frishy, compared to the kindness of God, is so itty-bitty it couldn’t even be seen under a microscope.  But it’s a way God chose to show me a glimpse of how it feels to be Him.

God is so good that He pities us and He cares for us, even though, in our fallen state, we’re nothing more than pests.  This is the very thing about God I had the hardest time believing. 

Now I see that, all those years of doubt and fear I had that God could ever be kind to me, God kept showing me a glimpse of His love in a way that I could understand–a way that might seem stupid or unimportant to others, but was very meaningful to my heart–through little Frishy.

Thank You, Jesus, for Frishy.  Thank you that you speak to our hearts in ways so humble that scoffers mock, but You do it anyway because You care more about our rescue than what others say about You. 

You love me, even though I’m an undesirable, flushable, totally needy pest.  Even though I have nothing to give You, even though I am utterly worthless to You, You pour Your value in me through Your love of me. 

Unlike Frishy, I am no pet to You.  You keep me as Your child, and You tell me that, one day, I will no longer look like a worthless pest, but instead be metamorphosed to the priceless daughter You are already changing me to be on the inside.

Romans 5:6,

When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God. (NCV)

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (NASB)

Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. (GW)

For when we were still helpless, Christ died for the wicked at the time that God chose. (GNT)

For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. (HCSB)

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. (NLT)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (NIV)

For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, the Messiah died for the ungodly. (ISV)

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (KJV)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (ESV)

While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. (CEB)

For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (WEB)

Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. (CEV)


Photograph by Kuribo, profile on

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

“African Clawed Frog”, Wikipedia article, used as a source:, accessed 4-28-2012.

Scripture taken from the Contemporary English Version © 1991, 1992, 1995 by American Bible Society, Used by Permission.

Scripture taken from the Good News Translation in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.

See Copyright Page for other Bible translation information.