Officer Tori Matthews of the Southern California Humane Society got an emergency call one day. A boy’s pet iguana had been scared up a tree by a neighbor’s dog, and then fell from the tree into a swimming pool, sinking like a brick. Officer Matthews came with her net. She dived into the pool, emerging seconds later with the pet’s limp body. As the newspaper reported, she thought – ‘Well, you do CPR on a person, why not on an iguana?!‘
She put her lips to the iguanas. She said, ‘Now that I look back on it, it was a pretty ugly animal to be kissing, but the last thing I wanted to do was tell that little boy that his iguana had died.’ Amazingly, the lizard responded to her efforts and is expected to make a full recovery.
All because Tori Matthews didn’t see a water logged reptile, she saw a little boy’s beloved pet.
What a great metaphor for ministry as we encourage and equip people. The root word of equipping in the New Testament is one of mending and preparing our nets to save and serve others. Officer Matthews was ready and equipped to help with her net and her very breath. Are you? Sadly, some days I’m not.
One day when I was full time at my last church, I was working late trying to finish up all I had to do to get out of town for a summer study break. (you know what that’s like before you go on vacation/leave town!) This guy showed up late that night around 9:30 or 10p, saying he needed some money, and no other staff were around.
I tried to listen patiently to his story which was to be honest, quite bizarre, and I was skeptical. Long story short, he said he had hitch-hiked to the church, was from another state, had no car, and no one he could call. I called our benevolence director and decided it was prudent to get him to the bus station. I did not think it was wise for me to drive him myself, it was getting late, and I couldn’t get a taxi or an Uber to come. In fact, in trying to get Uber to come on my Uber App, I accidently signed up to be an Uber driver!
I finally called a Hamilton County deputy who arrived and graciously agreed to transport him downtown to the bus station. He had no money, and against my better judgment, (and our policy) I gave him some money for bus fare. And I know it was frustration/tired talking, but as he was leaving I said – ‘I am doing this out of the goodness of my heart because I love God and people. But if you’re lying to me and ripping me off – May God strike you dead!’ What a great and loving spiritual giant I am! The deputy said to him – you might wanna listen to the pastor!
I’m not sure I reflected Jesus well that day. But I’ve learned that while we may never see the beauty in some people, when we realize how much they mean to God, we’ll do whatever we can to keep them from drowning, even kissing a lizard or two!