Ringing the new year in, for us, means taking time for reflection. To reflect both on the year past and that yet to come. And 2015, was a rough year in many ways. Not for us personally, but for multitudes around the world.
And if we asked, “Did you make it through in one piece?” many would say they’re battered, scarred, and wounded. Which we know is hard. But I stumbled on an unusual story that shows the beauty of our bruises, battle scars, and missing pieces.
It’s the story of the strange conduct of a land crab.
“One of the most useful pioneer evangelists of the Samoan mission was Teava, who, after many years of active services returned to Rarotonga. Though very feeble and bent with age, his place in the sanctuary was never vacant; and he was ever ready with a word of exhortation. And on one occasion he said…
When I laboured at Tutuila I often felt rebuked by the strange conduct of a large species of land-crab, called there the mali’o, here the tupa. It bores deep into the soil, the holes sometimes extending a considerable distance.
At night this crab loves to make its way to the sea, for the purpose of laving itself in the salt water and drinking it. Now it sometimes happens that, when hurrying through the tall grass and fern, some of its legs become defiled by contact with filth.
So great is the vexation of this crab at its mishap, that it delays its march to the sea in order to wrench off the offending legs! One may sometimes meet a mutilated individual hobbling along without two or three of its legs—a self-inflicted punishment!
In some rare instances it has been known to wrench off all its eight legs to escape defilement. It is then content to drag itself over the ground with considerable difficulty by means of its nippers, until it reaches its hole, where it hides until the legs partially develop themselves again, though not of their original length and beauty.”
[From The Biblical Illustrator, Matthew 5; in the Public Domain.]
Perhaps you had a hard year. Or perhaps, like us, it was pretty normal. But either way there’s an important lesson for us in the land crab.
What counts is that we keep going.
The land crab faces all kinds of difficulty in his march to the sea. He has to climb over rocks, go around plants, and run the risk of predators. And he meets with mishaps along the way. He gets covered with sand and filth. But he doesn’t let such obstacles stop him.
He throws them to the side and keeps going. Unfortunately thinking that to do so he must cut off his legs. When all he needs is to continue to the sea, and let the water wash him clean.
God often allows difficulty in our lives because he wants us to learn to throw aside the obstacles and keep going, too.
But we’re a lot like that crab. We foolishly forget that we can’t do it alone. We forget to ask the Lord’s help, or seek it from others. So we fight and struggle on our own. And get even more scarred and bruised in the process. Pretty silly, isn’t it, when we have plenty of help available?
We can’t know what the new year holds. But surely trials will come along with the blessings. Let’s just remember that God allows trials to help us. Yes, they may cause wounds and missing pieces. But they are, in the end, blessings in disguise! Teaching us to overcome obstacles and keep going on. And if we stop trying to battle alone, we may come out with fewer scars and missing pieces.
The Lord allows trials to teach us how to overcome and keep going.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, (James 1:2-4)
Because he’d rather we reach the finish blind and lame than not make it at all!