When we arrived at our hiking spot, the weather remained unchanged. It was cool, damp and less than pleasant. Still, we soldiered on. I'm bummed to tell you that it drizzled on and off the entire hike, but on the bright side, the Lord sent out a welcomed reminder (and an excellent idea for a blog post, at least in my mind).
Within just a few minutes of hiking, Jason pointed out a bright orange lizard on the leaf-littered floor of the trail. He was quite small and dazzling. As we studied him, I noticed another one just over a foot away. We resumed our walk, and a few minutes later, we spotted two more, then three more, then another one. By the end of the hike, we must have seen two or three dozen of the fluorescent creatures. It was awesome!
But here's the amazing part. Jason and I have been hiking the trails in this area on a regular basis for eight years or more, and in all that time, we've only come across an orange lizard like that on two or three other occasions. And on each of those occasions, we spotted one, not dozens. Because of that, I assumed that they must have been some rare species, but Saturday's hike told me that such was not the case. And after a little research, I discovered that the Eastern (Red-Spotted) Newt is quite common to the wooded areas of eastern North America. Interesting, huh? That they could be so popular, yet seasoned hikers like us barely knew of their existence because we'd hardly ever seen them.
Come to find out, the newts prefer moist wooded areas, so the environment on Saturday was perfect for them. Also, the newts that we saw were the juvenile of the species, for when they mature, they turn to a "normal" lizard color of greenish brown. Who knows how many adults were present but unseen because of their ability to blend in with the terrain? It's crazy to think about.
Here's what the Lord brought to my mind about the whole instance. I don't know about you, but I've heard accounts where someone was in danger, and they believe with their whole heart that they heard a voice that gave them instructions or felt a touch that woke them in time to see the oncoming vehicle. I haven't heard a lot of them, but I've heard enough to know that God has angels watching out for his children. But seeing those lizards on Saturday made me wonder just how many angels are here on this earth watching over you and me. Like the lizards, the encounters with angels are rare, making it appear as if the angel population is small, but God reminded me that in the proper circumstances, the angels will make themselves known, just like those lizards. And we'll be amazed at how many there truly are.
Isn't that a comfort to know? We are aware that God is looking out for us and that He can protect us, but there's something that calms the soul when we realize that we're surrounded by a heavenly host, much like Elisha and his band were in II Kings 6. Whether we see them or not, they're there, and they've been commanded to protect God's children. And I thought the lizards were awesome!
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. - Hebrews 13:2