Monday, August 25, 2008

Salamanders, Leeches, and Snakes. Oh My!

Our home could be considered water front property. That is, if you believe the contents of Spangle Creek could be called water. In reality, the creek is more of a long, skinny mud puddle, which is hardly visible through the tall reeds that grow along its banks. The bottom of the creek is so mushy that if you step on it (which I have only done once, and will never do again) you sink down to about your knees. Many of my children’s shoes have been ingested by the creek, but since they always seem to come home with their feet still intact, I hardly feel like I can complain. And did I mention the charming wildlife that live among the reeds in our lovely creek? Mudpuppies, crawdads, frogs, salamanders, leeches, and of course, your friendly neighborhood snakes. My son Graham can spend hours down at the creek investigating its endless mysteries. His younger brother Chandler acts more in the role of “research assistant,” eager to run up to the house and fetch me whenever Graham has caught something that they know I will find particularly vile.

When I am taken outside to view whatever awaits me in their trusty bucket, I do my very best to under react. A wise mother of boys once told me that the only way a mother of boys can escape being eternally harassed is to simply be un-harass-able. That is to say, if I scream and wail and freak out, it only makes it all the more fun for them. I like to show interest in their discoveries, which is not difficult, because I am sincerely interested in their creek findings. I may even utter a gasp out of genuine awe. But when I peer into their bucket, even if everything in me wants to squeal like a little girl, I do my best to maintain my composure and calmly ask:
“What is it?”
“Where did you catch it?” and
“What do you think it eats?”

I never know what I might see in the bucket. Sometimes the creatures are actually cute, like the frogs and tadpoles. Sometimes they are ugly, but completely harmless, like the mudpuppies. Other times what I see is really rather frightening, such as the leeches, which can actually cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. No matter what is in the bucket, it usually stays in the bucket unless Graham decides to take it out. He holds the bucket, and the stuff in it can’t hurt me as long as he is in control.

Some days life is like that. I have woken up to circumstances that made me feel like I was staring into a bucket of something vile. Some circumstances are ugly, but completely harmless…like a flat tire or a plugged toilet. Other circumstances are really rather frightening…like discovering that a loved one has a horrible disease or getting laid off from a much needed job. How can I face such things without completely falling apart? The truth is, sometimes I do fall apart. But then I remember who’s holding the bucket.

There isn’t a circumstance that comes my way that hasn’t been approved for me by God and He doesn’t bring anything into my life that is out of His complete control. I love the saying, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” The things that come my way—the good, the bad, and the ugly—are held by the hand of a loving God, who promises to use all things for my benefit and His glory. I can either focus on what is in the bucket or on the one who’s holding it.

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

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