I learned a very important lesson about commitment from a frog.
Not from what the frog did, but what I had to do to catch it. With my bare hands. You may think that I am about to tell you a cherished boyhood memory, but this happened when I was officially an adult, married and a father of three boys (‘boys’ being the operative word).
It was years ago. I was spending some time alone near a pond, attempting to discern God’s will about starting a church. I agonized over it. How could I be sure that it would work, that it would succeed? The answers came when I realized that most of my questions were about myself – not about God. When I began to ask questions about God, the answers became simpler and more compelling.
While walking around the pond I saw a gigantic bull frog sitting in the water, just beyond the edge of the bank. It was huge! No self-respecting dad of boys can pass up the opportunity to catch such a prize. I was wild at heart years before the book. But, I didn’t have anything with which to catch it (oops – how can a wild-at-heart guy use such proper grammar). I had nothing to catch it with. I did have a paper bag that I had had a snack in. So, I had something to put the frog in.
Have you ever caught a frog with your bare hands? Not one hopping on your driveway or in your yard, but one in a pond? You have to sneak up from behind it, get poised, and like a lightning strike – you have to grab it.
You can’t sort of grab a frog. You have to be fully committed. Including, or especially to what happens next. Because if you are quick enough, you will suddenly have a hand full of panicked frog, slime, mud and anything else in that precise spot of pond.
But, if you actually catch the frog, the joy of the catch overcomes how gross it is.
Well, I got this behemoth. And it wasn’t happy. It actually made a demonic, hissing sound and looked a lot like Mick Jagger as it did so. This got more glorious by the second. I couldn’t wait to get it home to show the boys. As I got home, I discovered that my timing was unbelievable. My two youngest, about four and two, were in the bathtub for their evening scrub. Perfect! Imagine my delight as I dumped the prize catch into the tub. What happened next may still require years of therapy. Let’s just say that their reaction suggested something different than delight. At least that’s how I interpreted their screams and crying. Terror, not the joy of swimming with a Mick Jagger frog was the response, and the memory, by the way.
It’s interesting to think about what we might miss because we aren’t willing to commit, commit like grabbing a frog. We want the outcome to be sure, clean, and without surprise. Can you remember when you did grab an opportunity, quickly, without over-thinking it, without getting paralyzed by trying to figure it out.
You know, when you catch a frog like that, you can’t wait to catch another, and it’s easier. You even get good at it.