I met him about two months ago. It could be longer. You know how time has a way of slipping away without notice. You think something happened a week ago but when you check the calendar you realize it’s already been a month.
It was after I moved to the farm in October, but before the first snowfall. I was driving into the yard at the end of the work day. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw some movement underneath the red pickup truck. But I was tired and dismissed it as my imagination. Walking up to the house, my imagination was smack dab in front of me. The chubbiest possum I’ve ever seen was directly in my path.
Startled, I stopped in my tracks. However, Lawrence (that’s his name) paid no attention. He continued waddling up toward the house and around the corner at a slow and steady pace. It could be my imagination, but I sensed a little smugness in his attitude.
He’s a steely grey color and the roly-poliest creature I’ve ever seen. I expected him to be scrawny and thin-faced. I expected him to run when he saw me or at the very least to dramatically fling himself onto the ground and assume the rolled up possum-playing-dead position all possums know so well. It’s simply part of their theatrical genetic makeup.
But no. Lawrence walked around the farm as if he belonged. And I guess he does.
My husband, Mel, has been leaving scraps out for Lawrence for a long time. One bachelor looking out for another. In fact, Lawrence has his own special eating pot. I haven’t seen a red gingham cloth napkin or any little eating utensils, but that wouldn’t surprise me. This is one very blessed possum. We recycle everything and Lawrence is an intricate part of that recycling program. He has an important role.
That’s true of all of us. We may think we live in this world alone. We may feel as if there’s nothing important that we do. We may even waddle through life thinking that we don’t make a difference. But the Lord of all creation knows us by name (Isaiah 43:1).
If we trust in Him and not ourselves, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). I have found that when I trust solely in myself, I usually walk around in circles. I may look successful by the world’s standards, but I’m lost. Luckily, I know the Gatekeeper. He calls me by name and leads me home (John 10:3).
We simply have to trust in the One who knows us by name. Who calls us to be part of his family. Who loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Two things I learned about Lawrence before I met him. He doesn’t like vegetables of any kind. This surprised Mel, too. Lawrence tried the cooked carrots and green onions, but then he spit them out.
He doesn’t always appreciate my cooking. He’s turned up his little possum nose to some of my more creative dishes. What does that mean when a possum refuses to eat your cooking? I asked Mel that question and he wisely refrained from comment.
I guess you have to admire a possum who knows his own taste and trusts it. Too often, we people just go along with what others think. We don’t speak up. We don’t take a stand. As Christians, we should be making our voices heard. Where were the Christians when prayer was taken out of the schools? Where were we when The Ten Commandments were removed from the courthouses? How could we idly sit by and allow our country to remove the Christian beliefs that this very country was founded upon? What were we doing? Playing possum when we should have been spitting those things out of our mouths?
The most important thing that we Christians can do is to pray and ask for the Lord’s direction. If we listen for the nudgings of the Holy Spirit and follow him, we won’t be lost. He will guide us to all truth (John 16:13). Open the Bible and read it. “For the word of God is alive and active. Shaper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
I saw Lawrence again, but he wasn’t alone. FloElla, a female possum was dining with him. I think she’s a possum with a past. Part of her tail is missing. But they seem happy together. I figure that Lawrence saw how happy we are and decided to take that next step, too. He’s a possum who thinks for himself. May we humans be the same.