Monday, June 15, 2009

Sheep C: Sheep Lessons from a Toad

Since I started writing on a couple of blogs, I’ve been much more interested in my camera. So many blogs have gorgeous photography, of which I am envious. I don’t aspire to that, but I do think that pictures liven stories up, so I’ve started actually packing my camera most of the time. One never knows when one might want to snap a picture to spread across the worldwide web!

I got inspired this past weekend to work on my rock/flower garden in the front of the house and had my trusty camera hanging from my belt loop. This is not my strong suit, gardening of any type. I love to see flowers; I just don’t like working at them. But, I am finding that gardening is a good way to think and to hear God. And it can make my place look better (that is if I ever actually finish a project).

Part of my task was to move some large, flat stones that we had used to outline some little individual areas. I was watching closely, worrying that I might run across a snake under one of them. My neighbor has reported several already this year. I encountered a few grub worms, many earthworms (some very large!) and a couple of scurrying bugs, but nothing to make me shriek.

I set aside one rock to discover a toad. How do they do that—fit under something that should squash them flat? In fact, I know for a fact that it did squash him flat; I know enough physics to figure that one out. But the amazing thing is that he doesn’t stay squashed.

The toad gave a momentary flinch as I moved the rock and then just sat still as stone. I sat back to look at him and, as I did my change in posture must have made my dog Scout (ever the helper) believe I would now give her the attention she so richly deserved. She hopped over the pile of stones and plopped right down next to the toad. I had a flash of concern as she did, thinking the toad might hop away and Scout might pounce on him. Still, he did not move. He just sat there. Can you spot him in the picture below? He's just to your right of Scout's foot; I've put a little circle around him.

"Instinct," I thought. "He knows he's almost hidden by staying still. If he moves, he'll have to deal with that dog or with me, so he's just staying put...counting on not being noticed"

Then something said, "He's being still, listening to God."

I had a flash of Scripture:

Be still and know that I am God... Psalm 46:10

"Nah!" said my brain, "He's not listening to God; he's being still because of instinct--you were right the first time."
But the more I thought about it, I have decided that a toad's instinct and listening to God may just be the same thing.

I thought about how my Sheep's brain analyzes everything, how that brain and its logic can cause me to plot and plan myself right into trouble. Rush, rush, rush; my brain tries to figure it out, take charge and run myself right into trouble, just because I did not stop and talk to God about something and listen to Him.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but
its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

And then there's fear. Being in fear almost never causes me to "be still," like the toad. It can cause me to stampede headlong, never stopping to listen to God and understand that He is in control, taking care of things whether I know it or not.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
So the toad taught me what? 1) be still, and maybe your enemy will not notice....2) be still and listen to and trust that voice of God, just like the toad did. You can't hear Him well when you're still.

P.S. In the interests of full disclosure, let me say that when I excitedly explained the toad's lesson to my son, his reply was, "Mom, he's cold-blooded. He couldn't move. You'd just pulled a cool rock off of him, and he did not have enough umpf to move, that's all." So, it may not have been instinct or the voice of God at all...maybe that toad just was too darned cold to move....but I like my version better... And then maybe, just maybe, that regardless of the reason the toad was still, I heard the message God was speaking to me. So, there!


Debbie said...

I believe your version is the one most fitting for a mature child of God. If I want the wind knocked out of my sails, no one does it quicker often than one of my kids!
Guess that epiphany was for your good only this time:D
Your pictures are nice and your dog is adorable. I enjoyed reading your blog and it gave me food for thought. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog so I could find you!

Leslie said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. Gardening "stills" my mind and I am more open to hearing God while doing it too. I know God in the stillness, in my quiet mind. The scripture you quoted is one of my favorites. Animals can remind us of so much, I love that. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

KathyB. said...

I am so thankful you left a comment on my blog, so I could find yours. I have read all your posts to the bottom of this page and in answer to all the questions you asked , I say yes! Yes, I have felt the way you do,and yes, I have felt like crawling into a cave, or staying put in my home...and am surrounded by friends and family who will not let me....and a God who keeps me ever mindful of His ways and words....

Gardening "still" my mind, and then opens it to think , think, think.....which takes me beck to Him.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. Your blog is great and I really like the photos and your dog is very pretty. Your inspirational comments are uplifting. Please visit my blog again.

glorv1 said...

I love your illustrations. They are so fitting. We have a toad in our yard at our cactus garden. I can't understand how he lives under the ground? Eye don't understand:D