A few weeks ago, Caleb's grade 1 class was studying mini-beasts. The grand finale to the series was to be a race. Each student had to bring a snail to school to compete. After searching the garden one night, we found a healthy-looking specimen, gave it some inspirational preparation, named it Rapidash, and packed it off to school. But there was one problem - Rapidash slept through the race!

When Caleb poured out his heart to the Lollipop man (Len) on the school crossing on the way home, an offer came to take Rapidash home to train it. Len claimed abilities as an Olympic Snail Trainer who could work wonders with our sleepy specimen. The next morning said snail was returned, having climbed all the way to the top of the jar. Caleb's enthusiasm was rekindled. Rapidash was committed into my care, and Caleb started a new school day.

After leaving school and heading to the office, I considered that Caleb would forget all about Rapidash, so placed him in the rubbish bin at church. But when Caleb was picked up from school that night, his first question was regarding the whereabouts of Rapidash! Father was given a stern reminder of the importance of this snail, who had been especially trained. And so it came to pass that Rapidash was not only redeemed from the rubbish bin, but has staked out his own place in our household, taking up residence in our Bug Catcher, and sharing accommodation with Stanley, another snail found in the garden.

It defies logic to know that two of the greatest pests we have sought to remove from our vegetable garden in recent years now get watered and fed regularly, with periodic reports on the state of their health, and the character of their facial expressions. I can barely believe that two snails are now a routine part of our family life.

But I have now come to see Rapidash as a reminder of the truth of the gospel: as one redeemed from the trash heap and given a place in a family, Rapidash is a reminder of the work of God in the life of every christian. In Christ, we have all been rescued from the rubbish bin of life, and given citizenship in God's kingdom as a fellow heir of all God has promised. In a very real way that slimy snail serves to remind me of the radical nature and depth of God's love.

The level of intimacy given to this stupid snail has just been sheeted home: Ev has walked in, holding the Bug Catcher, and telling me that Caleb had left it next to my bed. As abhorrent as that may sound to some, consider afresh how much God loves us, that we too are invited into the most intimate of relationships with Him.

September 17, 2000

P.S. At the time of web publication (August 2001) Rapidash still holds a place in our home. Stanley, however, couldn't keep the pace!
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