Olivia Collects Lizards

September 26, 2010

I was downstairs in my basement studio, slaving away like the slave of a slave when I felt the need for a coffee. That’s normal. I go through a pot before lunch every day, so going upstairs to feed my coffee addiction happens all the time.

But when I got upstairs and headed toward the coffee maker, there’s my son Johnny (age 3), soaked head to toe having just come out of the swimming pool. He’s dripping water all over the floor which has a surface long destroyed by four kids. But he has a helpless look on his face, “Dada, will help me get dry?” Once again, it’s a normal part of my day for Johnny to whine at me about something he’s helpless at doing on his own. I dried him off, then had to hang his swim trunks outside on the usual Johnny’s-swim-trunk-hook.

Now in the back yard, my daughter Olivia (5) was sitting by the pool-skimmer-intake thingy (I don’t know what it’s called, ask my Pool Guy). She looked distraught. I yelled across the pool, “What’s wrong?” She pointed to the pool skimmer intake thingy, “The lizard went in here.”

My daughters have been collecting fence swift (aka blue bellies) lizards and keeping them in aquariums. Unlike boys, they nurture the lizards to death. Olivia puts her littlest pet shop houses in the aquarium and when we watch TV she turns the aquarium around so the lizards can see the cartoons.

I was a little set back by how calm Olivia was for having lost a lizard, “Livie, if that lizard went into that drain, he’s dead.” Then she said something profound, which I quickly dismissed, “Don’t worry, Daddy. I already prayed to God and He saved the lizard!”

It sounded like she didn’t want to take responsibility for being a bad lizard-herder. “Olivia, God didn’t save that lizard if he went into that drain! He will have been sucked down the piping and into the other big-motor-thingy (Again, ask my Pool Guy)!” She repeated her, “I’m trying to tell you! I already prayed to God and He already saved the lizard!”

Now I’m feeling upset about the lizard but don’t want to traumatize Olivia about having just ground her lizard into pool meat. I lifted the hose out of the pool to stop the suction, and when the hose is removed it automatically shuts down. Lifting a lid, I found a catch-all with a basket made to keep leaves from going into the cleaning system and clogging everything up. I unscrewed the lid, pulled out the basket, and when the water drained, it revealed the little lizard, holding on to the sides. I took it out and set it on the towel next to Olivia. She wasn’t surprised.

Then it all came together, and you already know where I’m going with this. When Olivia said her prayer to God was probably about the time I felt the need for coffee. She had already prayed to God and He had already saved that lizard.

My first impulse is to dismiss all possible miracles as coincidences. But if I just simply read the facts as they came to me without a skeptical bias, I witnessed a simple answer to prayer. Don’t ask me why God didn’t answer my prayer last week to save a dying baby but does not answer a prayer to save a baby lizard. The main thing is that He appears to use our own free choices, He can use our habits and appetites, he uses our relationships and responsibilities to answer some prayers.

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15 Responses to “Olivia Collects Lizards”


  1. Wonderful post Doug, god always seems to work in such mysterious ways.

  2. Kins55 Says:

    “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

    Olivia believed, God answered.

  3. Ryan Says:

    Oh to have that unwavering child-like faith. I wonder, did she believe God answered her prayer because she believes that’s what God always does, or did she actually hear from God, “I have done it”?


    • I don’t think either one. I think she was trying to will it by saying it. I can’t get into her head because she’s the last person on earth who understands her own motives. I just know that she doesn’t filter every thought through a slave like prism of skepticism and materialism. She’s free to have these prayers, we’re slaves that can only watch her from inside the cell.

      I still think the whole event went over her head. So it’s not like God was telling her “I have already…” it’s more like He was telling ME. That’s what bugged me so much about it because it was like a form of communication where God spoke through history, free will and natural events… which is what a God would be able to do.

      It’s actually a lack of creativity and imagination that makes the atheist offer a stupid challenge, “God is welcome to come tell me exists at any moment.” The moment God did that he would cease being God. To crawl before some atheist worm to do tricks for an inflated ego doesn’t appear to be in His character, nor mine.


  4. Reminds me of Augustine. “Take up and read.” Since God is sovereign, coincidence can be miraculous.

  5. Chris Says:

    Beautifully told, thanks for sharing Doug!

  6. Andrej Says:

    Good lord, you’ve got a blog going on! I’ve had no idea, mr. TenNapel. I’m so happy right now that I can get a bit of information of what you’re up to and how you’ve been doing that I can’t put it to words.

    I guess it’s never too late to sicken your stomach with yet another “THANKS FOR THE FISH” from a clay fan. Yes, we’re still out there, still playing with clay, still listening to the Imaginarium of an evil mad audio scientist that goes by the middle name of S.

    I hope everything’s ok, and that life’s treating you fine in this crappy days they call the 21st century.
    Say a word and I’ll cover my country in clay.

  7. will le fey Says:

    Chicken soup for the fundamentalist soul.

  8. Patrick Says:

    “My first impulse is to dismiss all possible miracles as coincidences.”

    Yep, me too. The existence of God, the reliability of the NT scriptures… it’s all so logical and strikes me as easily the best explanation for the evidence we have. Prayer on the other hand… that’s a horse of a different color. Praying requires faith in a God who hears and cares, but seeing the answers requires even more faith. Every answer could just as easily be pure coincidence. Well, except for things like raising the dead and walking on water. But except for those, pretty much it’s all just faith. We have good reason to believe that a prayer answering God exists, just like I believe that that Plexiglas hanging out over the Grand Canyon will hold my weight, but it takes faith to step out there. I just hope they have a Sqeegee handy…


  9. […] . . . of the lizard. […]


  10. i would usually visit pet shops because my dog and cats can eat so much pet food in one day *-;


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