Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thankful Thursday - Really, Lord?

THWAP!!! It was a strange sound. It was an strange sight.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fall from above the kitchen door to the deck below. I didn't know what had fallen, but I was grateful that it was outside and not inside.

Wrong! It was inside. It was a small lizard. IN MY KITCHEN. Less than five feet from where I sat.
What? Seriously?
It became obvious to both of us, to me and that critter, that he had landed on the wrong side of that glass door.
(I say "he" because no female would show up at the home of another female without being invited.)
Shoot, shoot, shoot.
I am NO close friend or fan of four legged critters. I can barely stand my own dog. She's cute and all, but after ten years, she still isn't feeding herself or bathing herself or cleaning up after herself. And it doesn't look like she's trying to learn any self-care skills either.

Anyway, I watched that rascally lizard slither around the base of the kitchen door and then begin to climb it in a frantic effort to get back outside. I began to wring my hands and call upon the name of the Lord to help me figure out what to do. I also shouted out variations on the word, "Shoot."

I knew I couldn't just let it wander freely in my house because... just no.
I knew I couldn't kill it because then I would have to clean up the mess.
I knew I couldn't wait for somebody else to take care of this visitor because no one else in my house would be any more interested in chasing him down than I was.

Lord God Jesus, what do I do now?

I tried to open the door to let him out, but he crawled onto the doorknob.
Then he jumped over to the window sill nearby, dropping two little black souvenirs of his fear.
Really, dude? You come into my house and leave your leavings for me to clean up?

The open door idea didn't work, so I grabbed a paper bag, put it on the floor beneath the window, and then attempted to sweep that slippery little bugger off its feet. He hung on to the window sill with his tail for a few awkward seconds before cascading into the bag below. I grabbed the bag and ran out the door, dumping its terrified occupant into the bushes below the deck.

I am still shaking off the shivers. Let me repeat - I do not like four-legged critters, especially the uninvited ones.

All of that got me thinking -

How often have I fallen on the wrong side of the door?
Fallen into arguments? Into misunderstandings? Into prejudice?
Into fear? Into mistrust? Into betrayal? Into a habit of judgment?
How often have I intentionally elbowed my way into places I do not belong?
Into betrayal of someone I love? Into unfaithfulness to people and precepts I espouse?
Into lying? Into mistreating others? Into withholding love and grace?

How often has someone gently steered me back onto the right path?
Shown me grace and forgiveness?
Intentionally chosen not to wound me or step on me?
To each of them, to all of them, I am enormously grateful for their kindness.

How often have I had to do the same?
Extend tenderness and mercy, even when the recipient doesn't ask for or expect it?
How often have I not done that?
How often have I stepped on someone else without regard to their fear or doubts?
How often have I intentionally instilled fear in someone else?

Honestly, as I watched that little creature writhe and shake, jump and slide, I wasn't thinking about any of that. All I was thinking was, "This freaking thing cannot escape my sight or I won't find it again - until it runs across my forehead when I'm in bed."

As soon as I got it outside and tossed it over the deck railing, however, I began to wonder: what is the lesson here? What am I supposed to learn from that tiny teacher?

I learned that I can deal with even God's crawliest creatures without total panic and terror.
I learned that if I don't panic, I have a greater chance of coming up with a reasonably rational response to a challenging situation.
I learned that my dog isn't all that brave - she saw it, licked at it a couple of times, and then walked away. So much for her being a fierce little hunter.
I learned that the gap between the top of the kitchen door and the doorframe is wide enough for wildlife to have access to the inside of my house.
I learned that I ought to pay attention to the gaps - those spaces around the doors of the place where my soul dwells - where fear, hatred, prejudice, shame, anger, insults, suspicion, jealousy slither in. I need to mind those gaps. Fill them with courage, grace, welcome, contentment, prayer, Scripture, and words of truth and peace.
I learned that I can learn something from just about everything.

I am grateful that from start to finish, my run-in with that little runner lasted less than two minutes, probably less than one minute. I am grateful for the lessons that brief course taught me.

At the same time, really, Lord?
Couldn't I have learned these lessons some other way?

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