Dragonflies, Lily Pads, Bullfrogs, and Faith
Jul 26, 2015 05:07AM ● Published by Bonnie Lyn Smith
Last weekend, I found myself drawing in heavy breaths from the weighty, humid Pennsylvania air, almost fighting against it with every inhale as the mugginess climbed my limbs and threatened to swallow me whole. We arrived at 80-something degrees and were leaving at 90-something. How did I ever live in the South Pacific for two years and bike 80 extra pounds in kids around in the trailer? When did I become so intolerant of the humidity?
These thoughts swirled around in my mind as I watched my 9 year old Little Man, the happiest he’s been in months, darting from one flagstone to another trying to find a bullfrog willing to reveal itself for a moment among the lily pads in the pond at my parents’ retirement community. It’s not for a lack of trying that he did not find an amphibian friend. We heard their throaty cries. I believe our cold-blooded friends didn’t want to raise half an eye above the cool water and shade of the lily pads to greet Little Man. And who could blame them in this heat?
As I let my eyes soak in the serenity of the calm pond water and marveled at the dragonflies dancing freely, living in the moment, I also envied the lily pads—anchored, yet fluid on the surface of the water. While I want to tango with dragonflies on my more adventurous days, as we wait out my father’s prognosis, I think I much prefer the safety of roots in the pond bottom, with only slight, gentle movements away from my anchor in small steps of trust: lily pad living at its finest!
The funny thing is:
Faith in Christ is both.
Sometimes, we delight like a child in what Christ has done for us on the cross, that we no longer carry around the burden of our own sin. It makes us flit about in the moonlight like lovestruck teenage dreamers knowing for the first time that everything is possible! It’s a magic carpet ride with Aladdin. It’s a dragonfly waltz.
Other times, we hunker down and burrow ourselves deep in God’s unending love for us because we know when we are always tethered to Him, like the branches to the vine, nothing can cut us off. Nothing can separate.
John 15:4-8, ESV, Jesus speaking
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Right now, as my father faces Round 6 or so of cancer, I want to be the lily pad—no further than grabbing distance from my Savior. Frogs can hop happily across me. I don’t care. They are welcome, but I need to love from my lily pad right now,
so that later,
I can one day dance with dragonflies again.
Where do you feel this in your own life right now? Are you lively and filled with joy, enjoying a season of relative calm? Are you coming out of a season of mourning or disappointment, cautious but ready to get your wings on again? Or are you grabbing shade from your Father’s wings, refreshing, regrouping, restoring…until further notice?
Psalm 91:4, ESV, author unknown, possibly Moses
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
No matter where you are, nothing can take you from Him.
Romans 8:38-39, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Every season brings with it a new way to bring Him glory:
- Flitting about spreading joy and peace when the weight has been lifted from you, when you’ve been given a new song to dance to, so you can encourage others through their own dark nights of the soul
- Showing those around you where you ground yourself, where you seek wisdom and strength, that you feed from a source that is like no other and keeps you afloat when life around you threatens to flood your security
Allow me to go one further and add our little web-footed hopper to the mix, discovering—maybe for the first time—that something as seemingly flimsy as a lily pad can hold him up. What about him? What does our little bullfrog visitor teach us about the lily pad?
That others are drawn to its strength, perseverance, endurance, and resolve.
That when we remain attached to Jesus, our source of light, love, truth, and wisdom, others leap over to find rest on what they often mistake as fragile fronds. Imagine their surprise when they realize that those leaves connect directly to the Mighty One!
Sometimes our visitors are homely with sin, negativity, and discouragement. They aren’t always the prettiest creatures to join us for a while. Yet, they are welcome, and they come because they need what we have. We all have been toads or bullfrogs muddied and aimless at one point or another, striving endlessly but somehow not landing quite right.
Eventually, from the vantage point of the lily pad, our jumpy little friends look up to our dragonfly flight patterns. They may nervously hyper-focus on our inexplicable happiness in the midst of life’s storms. Perhaps they dream of dragonfly moments in their own lives, or they may at first resent the lightheartedness that they witness, but some of them stick around long enough to find sure footing on our lily pads.
And isn’t that a phenomenal blessing?
That we passed on the gift of eternal peace?
If all we saw were dragonflies, while they would be inspiring, for sure, in our moments of deepest pain, it could be hard to take them seriously, to not be sour and disillusioned by their joy when we still hurt.
The folks who inspire me the most let me in on both moments—
how grounded they are in their very real struggles
their laughter after the pain.
It may seem silly, but that pond across the street from my parents’ carriage house will continue to draw me in with each visit and remind me that everything I do, I do with the knowledge of a God who loves me. If you catch me at any random point in time, you may see me
dart with joy,
show myself buoyant-but-strong.
That’s how I end up living out my faith most days.
How about you?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.