The minute I opened the door and saw the ice-cream container in my son's hand, I knew! Still, being the eternal optimist, I clutched at one possible straw of hope.
"Did you have cooking today?" I asked, pointing to the plastic box.
Based on a snippet of news Matt had shared the night before, I was fairly certain that he wasn't holding a batch of inedible muffins from the Year 8 Home Economics class. The look of delight on his face seemed to confirm my suspicion and I was pretty sure that even Matt's culinary disasters wouldnít require air holes to be punched in the container's lid. In fact, if they did, I could guarantee that this was one parent who wouldn't be partaking!
As Matt shook his head in the negative, my one alternative for the mysterious ice-cream container occupant vanished. With the possibility of food out of the way, I decided to state the obvious.
"You've got a frog, haven't you?"
With great pleasure, Matthew went into the details of catching the little tree frog at school. As he'd mentioned the night before, the recent wet weather had brought them all out into the open once again and, with their re-appearance, Matt's love for these little creatures had been fanned back into flame.
As he carefully opened the container on the kitchen floor, I could see that Matt had gone out of his way to make a pleasant habitat for his new friend. The sight of the little frog sitting on a rock in the box was enough to bring a smile to my face as I also have quite a soft spot for these tiny amphibians.
Very gently, Matthew lifted the delicate creature from the rock and placed it onto his hand. It was at about this moment that we discovered his sister had certain frog-phobic tendencies and was quite "happy" to just view our house guest from a distance.
"Matt, he's lovely," I began, hoping to soften what I knew had to be said next. "But he has to go out into the pond."
Placing the tiny brown-green frog into my hands, Matt was quick to acknowledge that he was definitely going to release the diminutive creature into our garden pond - but not just yet.
Sitting on the floor with the tree frog on my hand, I stopped thinking about what needed to be done and just enjoyed the feeling of his tiny, cool body against my warm palm. As we watched our little visitor, Matt and I marvelled at his strong legs (which had already helped him to bounce across the kitchen floor) and the beauty of this little piece of God's creation.
Before long, Kylie came closer and tried to overcome her fear long enough to gently touch the cold, damp skin. As she worked up the courage, the frog did something that brought a resounding "Aww" from the human on-lookers. Seemingly quite at home and weary from all the fuss, two little hands tucked themselves under the tiny green head and right there and then our guest settled down for a quick nap.
I felt quite honoured to act as his pillow, but the facts didn't change. Humans were made for houses. Frogs were made for ponds and damp places.
"You can keep him inside until Dad gets home and you've shown him, but then he REALLY has to go out to the garden." Then I added just a little more so that Matt would understand. "I'm concerned that if we keep him inside he'll get hurt. I just want him to be where he can get all the food he wants and be safe."
Matt seemed to agree, but I noticed a few minutes later that he was hard at work doing renovation work on the ice-cream container. A few snips at the side and a cover of clear plastic quickly converted the lowly box into a room with a view. The addition of a large leaf in the water provided a "lily pad", and for all intents and purposes it appeared that my son was preparing the frog for an extended visit.
Steve arrived home not long after that and Matt raced quickly to tell his father the news. A second or two later he was running back into the house to let me know that Dad had said he could keep the frog in his room overnight.
Oh well, at least I'd tried. In the end, ceding defeat wasn't really all that hard. After all, one night of captivity wasn't going to make much difference in the life of our little guest.
"All right, that's fine," I said with a sigh. "BUT, first thing tomorrow morning you're to take him out and let him go near the pond."
Matthew agreed without hesitation and bounced off to set "Freddo" up in his new, fancy apartment.
The next morning everything was moving along much the same as always, until I heard Matt call for me to come quickly. I could tell from the tone of his voice that something was wrong, but thinking that it was probably a missing pair of school socks, I didn't worry too much about rushing to the rescue.
It didn't take long for Matt to appear in his doorway with the now empty ice-cream container in his hand and the news that the frog had woken up "a little bit frisky".
Five minutes until the bus!
This did NOT look good!
Instead of taking the box outside and letting Freddo go, Matt had wanted to hold his little friend just one last time. As he'd taken the lid off the container, the frog had seized the opportunity for escape by bouncing with a splosh onto Matthew's stereo system and then leaping over to the wall.
As we tried to catch the tiny fugitive, he hopped behind a stack of crates in the corner of the bedroom, which were full to overflowing with Matt's treasures.
The situation had just gone from bad to worse.
With my only concern being the possible danger that the little frog might be in, we carefully, but quickly, moved everything out of the way until Matt could see the small green head behind one of the stacked baskets.
Finally, with great care, Matt reached out and brought an end to the great amphibian indoor adventure. Then, without further ado, he took the tiny creature outside and placed it gently near the pond. At last I could relax knowing that our visitor was where he was meant to be.
As appealing as it can be to try and merge two totally different and opposite things together, it isn't always wise. In fact, when it comes to the Christian lifestyle, it can be quite spiritually dangerous.
There's absolutely no argument with the fact that we've been given the commission to go out and make disciples of all nations. Yet sometimes in our zeal to win a soul to Christ and our attempts to become all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:22), we can actually end up becoming the "influenced" rather than being the "influencers"!
When we step into areas of life that are opposed to the things of God, we must make very sure to always keep in mind that we're just passing through.
The danger comes when we become too comfortable in that place and set up a habitation. When we do that, it probably won't be long before the very people we most want to see come to Christ, will actually end up drawing us back into a way of life to which, as new creations, we should be quite dead.
We need to pay attention to the Apostle Paul's warning to the church in Corith, when he wrote:
Paul isn't saying that we mustn't have any communication or relationship with non-Christian people, for to do that would be totally against Christ's commission. What he is saying, however, is that we mustn't become closely linked or affiliated to their lifestyle, attitudes or actions, to the point where we become a reflection of them, rather than a reflection of our Lord.
Finding the balance between being in the world, while remaining not of the world, isn't always easy. At times, the pull back into an old lifestyle can be so subtle that we arenít even aware of how strong an impact itís actually having. However, when we do suddenly find ourselves somewhere that's not good for our soul, we should take a simple lesson from "Freddo the Frog" - and get hopping!
Send Debbie an E-mail
Copyright © 2001-2003 Debbie Porter - Breath of Fresh Air. All rights reserved.