It was a hot day. Far too hot for Barnabas to be outside for as long as he had. He is, after all, of the “Goldilocks” persuasion in that he doesn’t enjoy weather that is too hot or too cold. Only weather that is just right. Concerned about his prolonged stay outside, I went to the back door to find him digging a hole underneath our gas grill. I watched as he dug, then bent down to peer into the darkness under the grill. Being directly in the sun, he panted, his tongue lolled to the side. He was getting overheated, and I knew it. But I also knew there was no way he would leave that spot until he caught whatever it was under the grill or until he could be sure it was no longer available to be caught. Still, I tried.
I called. I coaxed. I commanded. But nope! His attention was fixed on the ground beneath the grill. He circled his unseen prey, pawed at the ground, and repeatedly stuck his nose as far under the grill as he could. Worried he was going to hurt himself or turn the entire grill upside down, I called Jason and explained the situation.
Jason planned to lift one side of the grill and expose the prey, hoping it would run off before Barnabas could catch it. But the moment Jason lifted the grill, my crazy pooch lunged into the darkness, intent on capturing his prize. There was a flurry of movement as predator and prey danced around the grill—a literal display of “cat and mouse.” Then, in one final pounce, it was over, and Barnabas proudly lifted the limp body of a large lizard (and when I say “large,” this thing was the size of a chipmunk. Gross!). He carried his prize into the shade, played with it for a few more minutes, then finally made his way into the comfort of the air-conditioned house.
The first thing I noticed was his bleeding face. I thought maybe the lizard had fought back, but upon further examination, I realized these wounds were self-inflicted. He had cut his face up while trying to wedge it under the grill. All for the love of a lizard!
As I cleaned his wounds and worked to cool him off, I wondered what would possess him to put his safety at risk for a stupid reptile. Not only had he created gashes in his face, but he had also nearly overheated. He knew that. He knew he was hurt, uncomfortable, and in danger of doing himself serious harm, but the temptation to have that lizard was too much to pass up. So, he pressed on despite his instincts of self-preservation.
Don’t we all tend to do the same? We work too hard, eat too much, and rest too little. We stress over the big things and take for granted the little ones. We chase dreams and goals, so focused on what we think is best we ignore the still, small voice warning of danger ahead. We do what we want, watch what we want, eat what we want, go where we want. And all the while, we put ourselves in danger. The danger of falling into temptation. The danger of getting in way over our heads. The danger of becoming prey ourselves.
Why? In Barnabas’ case, it was because of a lizard, but more than that, it was about focus, and the same can be said for our situation. We can become so focused on what we want that we lose sight of all else. We can become deaf to the voice of our Master (just as Barnabas ignored my commands). We can put our safety and that of others at risk. And in the end, what will we have to show for it? Barnabas’ victory celebration was short-lived, but the wounds on his face will last for quite some time. Our outcome could be the same. Sure, there may be a few moments of satisfaction, but then what? More than likely, wounds that will take a lifetime to heal. It’s not worth it!
I don’t know what you’re focused on today, but I urge you to be careful. The temptation is strong. Self-satisfaction is enticing. It’s good to be persistent but only if we’re persistent about the right things. Stop chasing the lizard. It’s not worth your time. Instead, focus your efforts on being the best Christian you can be and serving the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. That way, you’ll reap much greater rewards than a dead reptile.