If you have ever visited Florida then you have probably noticed the small lizards that seem to be everywhere, including the inside of homes. These small creatures are called “anoles.” Most people call them “chameleons” due to the green anole’s ability to change color; however, anoles are only distantly related to the chameleon, and in fact are more closely related to the iguana. Anoles are small lizards adapted for climbing trees, shrubs, fences, and walls. They are frequently seen basking in the sun or hunting insects around Florida homes. Male anoles have a large throat fan, which is often displayed, along with “push-ups” and head-bobbing behaviors when they court or defend territories.
One day, I was just finishing a tough day at work. By tough, I mean that the company I was working for had missed its payroll again. It seemed that one of the large local banks had been slowly extracting accelerated payments for outstanding loans thus forcing the company to rely on its employees to become the financiers of the firm. The company had insufficient funds to pay travel expenses and my charge cards were reflecting several Asian business trips. Other news that day included job reassignments, an announcement that the company would be downsizing to another location in an attempt to lower its costs and that all employees would immediately have their wages cut forty percent. Many of us who believed in the company were now heavily in debt and I think that day, the futility of my hope in a turnaround became evident. I was demoralized, broken and I was relying solely on my faith to keep my hopes alive. But after that day, even hope seemed pointless.
As I left for work, I got in my car to leave. I had parked against some shrubbery and as I pulled away, a small lizard (an anole) jumped onto the hood of my car. It stayed there as I pulled out of the parking place. Yes, it stayed there as I pulled out onto the highway for my commute home. During the drive, I could see that the lizard’s ability to stay on the hood was directly proportional to my speed. As I drove on, I was overcome with a sense of compassion for that little lizard. Inside, I was struggling with a need to stop and chase it off the hood and a complete sense of defeat brought on by my day at the office. As the minutes went by, the lizard slipped further toward the windshield.
Now my speed was up to about fifty miles and hour. It was becoming more difficult for me to watch the lizard struggle in its futile attempt to grip the car. I know it was the weak mental state that I was in that day but as I reluctantly held back my urge to stop, I was being overwhelmed with guilt and concern over a little lizard. Then, while I was thinking again about pulling over and stopping, the lizard disappeared over the top of the windshield. It was another defeat, another straw onto the camel’s back. At that moment, I felt that I had destroyed one of God’s creatures because I just would not stop. Yes, that silly little lizard brought me to tears. These are not moments men are proud of but they happen. So much of our lives become wrapped up in our career and work that we are prone to give up even logical thoughts. I pulled into my garage and went in to sulk. My time was spent in reflection and selfish prayer, “Why me God, why me?”
About an hour later, my wife asked me to take out the garbage. I went out through the garage, grabbed the garbage and walked passed my car. Yes, there on the top of my car was the little lizard, perched and observing his new territory. What had happened was that, as the lizard slipped up the windshield and onto the roof, it found an eddy in the slipstream created by my roof rack. An eddy is a current of water or air running contrary to the main current. It is a space of sanctuary within a storm. Instead of being flung upon a concrete highway at high speed, the lizard enjoyed the ride and was now surveying a new opportunity in my yard. God did not leave long between the experience and the message. I knew right then that faith is all about the same thing. In the storm of things affecting my life, I would find an eddy, a place of sanctuary. God would protect me and He did just that.
It was a hard several years after that day’s lesson. I was soon out of work and it took several years to rebuild my job experience in a new field. Money was tight but we always seemed to have just enough. Yet the purpose became so clear. My mother and father had recently moved down from Ohio. It had always been hard for me to spend time with my father. He had left for the Army when I was one month old and I really did not meet him until his return three years later. We shook hands at a railroad station, as my mother introduced us. Not having him around during my formative years seemed to have created a permanent barrier between he and I. We were never very close.
Not long after my parent’s move to Florida, my father was diagnosed with cancer. It was a struggle that brought us together. I drove him to his doctor’s appointments, I was with him during his surgeries and recoveries. My time out of work had allowed me to share men’s Bible Studies, work together at our church, and talk about God with my father. He fought valiantly but lost his battle after his last surgery was complicated by pneumonia. God was providing me an eddy to seek my shelter from the winds of life. The lesson’s final chapter came one night while I held my father’s hand and my dad passed away. My father, our Father and I were very close that night.