A Reptilian Revival


For his 9th birthday, TJ asked for a lizard . . . Or a rock tumbler.  I decided I’d rather him be that weird reptile kid than the weird rock collection kid, and got him a crested gecko.  He really wanted a bearded dragon, but the tall guy with the sniffles at Petco shook his head and told me that a bearded was a “more advanced lizard.” I tried not take offense at his insinuating.

For a beginner lizard, the gecko was incredibly complicated.  Humidity at 80%, temperature at 90 degrees, calcium, dechlorinator, crickets the size of the space between his eyes . . . it went on.  The fragility of the little sucker had me completely stressed out. 

After a week, we ( as in TJ and I . . . as in I) started to find a rhythm; spritzing water, coating crickets, adjusting heat lamps. The fact the thing still had his tail 7 days in, left me feeling confident about my lizard keeping abilities.  Until I came home one afternoon to find him sitting in his tree the color of paste. My son was spending the night at my parents, so I went into lizard revival mode; turning up the heat lamp, adjusting the humidity, piling worms and crickets into the feeder.  By bedtime I went in to check on him.  He sat on a rock, stiff pawed and colorless.  I called my daughter into the room.  “Does he look dead to you,” I asked.  She nodded knowingly, trying not to boast that she never liked the thing. Not about to touch a dead lizard, I decided to leave him (for my husband).  I fell asleep that night rehearsing how I was going to tell my son his gecko passed over the rainbow bridge, all while wishing we had gotten a fish which comes with a much easier disposal method.

As morning dawned, I crept into my son’s room expecting to find the lizard belly up.  Instead he was crawling around, a vibrant orange once more. I stood convinced that I had a miracle on my hands.  A resurrecting lizard.  For days I told friends about the lizard that rose from the dead, the gecko that turned from pale to vibrant in the black of night, the reptile that conquered death while the world was silent.  Until my friend, Jordan, that actually knows something about lizards laughed at my miracle. Turns out, lizards shed.  They turn white and then lick the scales off for calcium. Usually at night when it is dark and quiet. Creepy, fascinating, and completely contrary to my resurrecting gecko theory. He wasn’t dead, just shedding.

In my faith, the echoes of Easter sermons haunt me. Preachers scoffing at the foolishness of the disciples.  “Look at them run, return to their homes, back to their boats.  Look at them weep and mourn. They should have known.  Jesus told them.  He was going to rise.” I despise those words, cringe at the scoffing. 

The disciples saw their beloved friend, son, teacher pierced and bleeding. They saw him breathe his last.

  And then the world went dark.

And  there was silence. 

And truth turned upside down and inside out to the point that reality had no point of reference in which to continue. 

And they didn’t know how it was all going to work out.

I know that kind of darkness.  I know what it is like to fight sleep with exhaustion; painfully aware that with slumber comes the dawn of another day to face.  I know that silence.  I know what it is like to strain for a familiar voice; longing for even a whisper of hope or a stuttered promise. I know that reality; where truth becomes skewed by the seeming victory of injustice.  I know more than anything what it is like to know nothing at all; except that I probably should.

I am those disciples. I struggle to see how it all works out. I struggle to remember what He said. So I cringe at the scoffing.

Consider Jesus’ mother Mary and John, the disciple Jesus loved.  In his final moments on the cross, Christ looked down at them declaring “son behold your mother, mother behold your son.”  It was a knowing command that they care for one another.  So in the darkness and the silence they returned home together, as the last words they heard had commanded.  Or Peter who returned to his fishing boat, the very place where Christ first called him.  Or Mary, who sat outside the tomb weeping for it was the last place she knew her Savior to be.

In the dark, and silent, and upside down moments of life there is much fretting.  What ought we do? How will we explain it?  What should we have done to not end up in that place?

Scoffers come.  They tell us to move, to listen harder, to Do Something. They tell us we should know.

But I think the disciples had a better plan.  They continued in the command they last heard, returned to the place they were first called, sat in the place they had last seen Him.  And when He rose, Christ knew exactly where to find them.  Which He did.

Sometimes to remain takes greater faith than to move. To sit in the silence and the darkness and wait takes more trust and confidence than to flee.  For though the world was black, and God said not a word — miracles were happening.  The veil tore from top to bottom, captives found freedom, death lost its sting. He was not dead . . . just shedding. Shedding the injustice of His crucifixion to bring forth a more vibrant life.

When your world is upside down, charred, painfully quiet it is okay to sit, to remain, to wait in the place you most remember Him.  He knows where to find you.  And take heart.  The greatest miracles of the  cross happened in the darkest moments.

Ironically, shedding his scales revealed our Gecko had a valuable set of markings.  So the nutty owner of the reptile house traded the Gecko for a bearded dragon, which is what my son really wanted all along. Turns out the Gecko was just the miracle I needed.