The Toad and the Snake

toad window wellI have always been a story teller. Across years of ministry, I have often attempted to develop ‘parables’ to help illustrate spiritual truths. Following Jesus’ lead, I’ve attempted to use familiar situations or recognizable character types to illuminate my point. This is my latest effort.

My father-in-law, Gale Bowyer, had a house in the country. It had window wells that served as retaining barriers to hold the surrounding earth back about eighteen inches from the basement windows. This arrangement let light into the basement, but allowed the yard level to be maintained. One day we were standing near one of the window wells when Gale reached down into the well and lifted out a toad. It had apparently fallen in and was unable to get out. A couple of days later, we looked into the window well and the toad was in there again. Once more the toad was lifted out and sent on his way. Over the next several days, we checked, and the toad was usually in the window well, unable to get out.

We finally figured out the situation. After dark, a night-light in the basement shined through the window. Bugs and flying insects would gather around the window where the light shined through. The toad would see the abundant food supply and hop in to help himself. As the toad grew fatter, any possibility of jumping out became more of an impossibility.

One day, I looked in the window well planning to once again rescue the toad.  I recoiled at what I saw. A large black snake with a bulge in its middle was lying in the bottom of the window well. The overindulgent toad had sacrificed his freedom for the easy life. Despite numerous rescues, the toad was drawn to the window well like the proverbial “moth to the flame”. He was tempted by something that would lead to his downfall.

The Biblical application is obvious. The easiest way is often not the the best way. The easy way may have ‘hidden’ costs like it did for the toad. Since we have free will, we may decide, as so many do, to follow our own basic instincts and our own self interests. However, scripture warns: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV). God’s word also informs us that, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes…” (Proverbs 12:15a). Beware of what seems to be effortless gain. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Because of my affinity for stories that teach a moral lesson, I am fond of Aesop’s Fables. A statement from one of the fables is appropriate here. “Affairs are easier of entrance than exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in”. Jesus spoke to the ‘easy way’ when He said, “for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13). The Message translation of Amos 6:1 gives an interesting look at the easy way: Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life. You assume you’re at the top of the heap, voted the number-one best place to live.” When tempted to take the easiest way, remember the toad!

Prayer: Lord help me to enter by the narrow gate.
the gate is narrow and difficult, it is the way which leads to life.”
(Matthew 7:13-14)  

~ Brother Roy


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