Publication: One-to-One, Summer 2010
WARNING: Graphic story. Do not read while eating. Especially if eating marsupials. Also, do not read if you are offended by my incorrect spelling of “possum”.
In our family, relaxation is very hard work. It is a known fact that no matter when we try to go on a rare vacation and no matter where, there will be a major construction project beginning at our hotel corresponding with our arrival. Or possibly a hurricane. As I write these words, my wife, Susanne, and I are attempting to celebrate our recent Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary by traveling to a country which has suddenly become shrouded in clouds of volcanic ash.
I think that major resorts, and possibly nations, should pay us to stay away.
This Spring, on the actual date of our Silver Wedding Anniversary, Susanne and I planned a quiet day together, with a lovely lunch scheduled overlooking Mobile Bay. As I was preparing to meet her, I received a phone call from my college-aged daughter, Gracie, who was driving home from class. Her tearful voice on the other end of the line startled me.
“Daddy, where are you?”
“I’m at home, what’s wrong?”
No parent wants to hear their daughter crying on the phone when she is supposed to be arriving home. I braced for bad news.
“Oh, Daddy, it’s terrible!”
“Honey, where are you? What’s wrong?”
“Daddy, somebody here in the neighborhood had an accident and …”
“Daddy, somebody has hit a possum with their car.”
Long exhale from Dad.
“But, it’s a momma possum, and she’s dead, and there are possum babies coming out and they are running into the street, and I am trying to keep cars from hitting them.”
Now, some people may have heard my story about “The Turtle in the Road,” where God spoke to me through the dilemma of a poor, helpless terrapin. (Note: God did not speak to me through the turtle; only through the situation. Let us be clear.) At any rate, the acorn has not fallen far from the tree, as my daughter apparently shares our family predilection for rescuing animals in danger.
Understand, it isn’t every day you get to celebrate your 25th Anniversary, and I didn’t want to delay or miss my hot date. Especially not for a possum. I don’t like possums, except with rice and brown gravy.
Of course, it wasn’t about the possum. My little girl needed her Daddy and within minutes, I was standing next to her in the road, directing traffic and corralling four wayward baby possums. I was also working the cell phone, calling “Animal Control” for assistance. As it turns out, “Animal Control” said that they didn’t handle “wild animals,” which was a major newsflash to me.
Thank God for an understanding wife, who agreed to postpone our wonderful date until I could resolve this crisis. After all, she’s not just a great wife, but a loving Mom who felt the concerns of our daughter.
Soon, my Dad was in on the rescue as well, bringing me a much-needed box and some high-tech possum extraction equipment (paper towels) which I put to use in gathering up the four little possum babies who were just opening their eyes and making tiny heart-rending yelps.
I soon discovered that there were four more baby possums who were not yet, shall we say, delivered yet. For the sake of the squeamish, I will fast-forward the story and say that I tenderly placed eight healthy newborn possums into the box for a rushed drive to an environmental study center which specializes in care for wounded or imperiled animals.
As I prepared to leave, I thanked my father and hugged my daughter. She grabbed me tight and through a teary smile said, “Well, Daddy, now you can do a message about The Possum in the Road.“
Love is an amazing motivator, especially the love of a parent for their child. Love is not only expressed in the spectacular – such as possum rescues – but in being available and engaged in living life together. It is in being willing to sacrifice what is precious or enjoyable for you to be in situations that may be unpleasant or difficult – for the sake of blessing or helping the people you love.
Jesus taught us to pray to God, “our Father.” In Luke 11, Jesus said that if earthly fathers desire to do good for their children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give us good gifts, including the precious gift of the Holy Spirit? He said in Matthew 6 that if the Heavenly Father takes care of the birds, how much more will He care for His children? Those who have received Jesus Christ by faith now have the nature of the Father living within them. John tells us that “God is love.” He not only expresses His love to us, but also through us. And love is the greatest lesson that we can teach our children.
Love is costly. Love can be messy. Love makes you reach. Love is not convenient. Love is often not expressed on your own terms. Love will cause you to rescue possum babies on your Silver Wedding Anniversary.
Speaking of the Anniversary, within an hour of my documentary-worthy possum adventure, I was cleaned up and seated across the table from my lovely wife enjoying her company, the cuisine, and the bayside view.
And thinking, “Praise God, we don’t live near any needy polar bears.”
Scripture Reference: Luke 11; Matthew 6
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.