Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A metaphor for love and life... and ministry!


If you're not a person
who likes to see snakes,
you'll hate this post...
just move along...

The Harpist has a pet snake named "Calvin" - (he's into the Predestination of mice, in case you wondered.) While she is in Germany, Reedy Girl and I are caring for his bodily snaky needs which include food (we will buy mice later this week), water (daily), a nice warm lamp and rock to bask on or hide under.

We try to handle him at least every day because though he is comfortable being held, but it has to be done consistently. He's fairly content with being a necklace, or in Harpist's case, a hair scrunchie. As reptile pets go, it's not bad.

And though I'm not big on the feeding part, I like mice less than snakes, so it's all good.

Except -- what goes in must come out. And yesterday he left us a lovely "digested present" to clean up in his cage. Of the three people left in this house, I was the one who got the honors. EW. YUCK!!! Sigh... OK.

I was apparently "the elect" in this case. Thanks a bunch, Calvin.

So as I cleaned his tank and set up the fresh lining and water, I realized that this really is a metaphor for love and life. In so many spaces in life there are messy people, messy situations and "a clean up on aisle 3." It really isn't something people just dream of doing the rest of their lives. (I mean, think about it -- it's fun to ride a horse, but who likes mucking out stalls, really??)

And pastors seem to end up in cage-cleaning mode a lot. Sometimes it is because we happen to just be available and there really isn't anyone else around. Sometimes it is because we are attuned to "messy" needs and lives and are Called to be a part of them. And sometimes -- itb's because it's a simple way to care for one of God's creatures.

Two situations with people I care about reminded me this week that it's OK to not like doing these "cage-cleaning" operations. But it is far worse to make excuses, blame or expect the snake to do its own cleaning when it's beyond his capabilities. Instead, I put my gloves on and go to work.

So as I cleaned the cage, I thought about all of the ways that God shows love to me, especially in those situations where I am really in a pickle and just need rescue, to be lifted "out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire..." as David prayed in Psalm 40.

God's mercy knows no limits towards me. So I'll continue to work on extending that limitless mercy to others. Even people I don't like. Even those who intentionally sabotage their own living situations. And yes... even snakes.


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