On warm summer evenings I enjoy the small luxury of reading, either on my front or back porch, but usually the front. As a person who sometimes believes he needs to constantly be “doing something”, reading is one of those exercises that can be both relaxing and “doing something” for me. The miracles of technology have made it possible to read a backlit book in whatever font size I need. I sit with a cold drink, a good book or two, and the music of insects and frogs in my neighborhood.
I was sitting in that spot a few weeks back when some movement caught the periphery of my vision, and I looked up. Now, I always need to check every possible flicker because I am at that age, and have the condition, where I get lots of “floaters” in my eyes; what seems like a flying bug is often just a moving spot in my eye. I have made the mistake of swatting (in public and in front of family) at things that aren’t there, risking early incarceration in a guarded care facility. But on this evening what caught my eye was a frog on the brick wall some twelve feet in front of me.
It was not yet sunset, but almost. We see many little tree frogs from the nearby river, in and around our porches. They love the plants in the back, and often sit on the fence watching me grill. But this guy was at least three times the size of the small, green, frogs I was used to seeing. We exchanged the male “head nod” and he progressed up the wall to the outdoor lamp on the wall. He remained there. I continued reading Greek philosophy in the original language. (I’m kidding, it was probably Agatha Christie).
The next evening found me out there again. Same chair, same book. Once again, at around the exact time as the night before, my friend came back to the wall. I decided, since this was going to be a regular meeting, he (head-nod told me he identified as male) needed a name. I christened him, Edward (named after American realist painter, Edward Hopper). This night, Edward made his way, once again to the lamp on the wall. On the way, however, he paused. When he did, I saw two other smaller (of the sort I’m used to seeing) frogs come up the wall behind him. He continued until he was securely behind the lamp and the other two frogs (Sons? Daughters? Grandkids?) secured themselves nearby.
I was puzzled by this routine, which seemed to happen every late afternoon/evening at the same time. Until I witnessed it a third time. You, who are probably quicker and wiser than I am, have already figured it out. On the third night I observed the same routine, gave the head-nod to Edward and his family and watched them take their places and then it happened. The sun went down, the lamp (connected to a sensor) came on. Suddenly that little spot became a “Frog Smorgasbord” as every bug in the county came out.
Edward knew where the food was. He went to it. He led others to it.
Naturally, at that moment, I made a note of the event. Here is one of God’s creations. Edward, as bright as he may be, is still a frog. He is not at the pinnacle of creation, that place is held by humans, but he is a “brother creation”. Through his tiny frog brain he deciphered enough to know this: God, his Father, will provide what Edward needs. But, as with everything in the Kingdom, it requires some cooperation, some partnership, from Edward. Not only that, once provided for, the Kingdom requires Edward to fulfill the miracle of provision, by providing for others.
My brain may be bigger, but sometimes I revert to the belief God will provide for me by bringing things directly to me when I ask. The Spirit doesn’t teach that, neither in the Scripture nor in day-to-day life. What the Spirit teaches me, Edward, and you, is the KINGDOM of God is a cooperative. We work WITH God in all things, taking a first step in faith (like hopping up a wall to the light) to prove we are willing, THEN our Father provides. Once that happens, we have, in effect, committed to be someone else’s miracle (“Much will be required of everyone who has been given much.” LUKE 12:48). It’s in our KINGDOM CONTRACT (The Lord’s Prayer): “…give US (not ME) this day OUR daily bread…forgive US OUR debts (together, because) …WE forgive OUR debtors…”
This KINGDOM of God IS progressing, despite what it may seem (depending on where you get your news, or what YOUR world may look like). It grows slowly and steadily, like the mustard plant.
As the KINGDOM grows, I continue to learn, and carry, these Truths:
Every spiritual Truth has a physical metaphor.
God’s Truth is revealed on and off the pages of Scripture.
Look and listen for the Spirit. You only find what you seek.
Prayer is a partnership, not a passive request to a “metaphysical genie”…
…and, even Edward the frog knows enough to hear God, and share God.