The sandfish is a lizard that lives in the deserts of North Africa. Its name reflects its nature of diving into the sand and then pulling its legs close to its body to “swim” (like an eel) through sand. It does that in order to hide from predators or find cool relief from the heat.
As I watched a recent television feature about the sandfish, I was struck by how that lizard models conformity to God, Who “made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26, NASB)
Although the sandfish is not part of “mankind,” it is clearly content in, and adapted to, its assignment to a time and a place. It seems delighted to live in the Arabian Desert – and not in the Artic, the mountains, swamps, South Pacific islands, the tundra, or Tokyo.
Our Creator could have placed that sandfish – or me – in any time of history or any place on earth. But He designed both of us for specific times and places. So, why have I been unable to adapt to my own habitat as freely and fully as the sandfish? Why do I live in a continual critique of my “desert” and its problems?
Perhaps if I humble myself that little sand creature can teach me a vital truth: I am here and I cannot change anything about here. I am also God’s workmanship. He made me; I didn’t. So why do I struggle with all of that? I seem to live in continuous anxiety; I feel the need to change my place, my times, and myself. I imagine a need to live so “prophetically” that “sinners” will fall on the ground and writhe in repentance, or that my government will change or collapse.
Why do I live in an assumption that I must emulate people who lived in other times and other places? I seem strangely compelled to live in, maybe, the Congo (or in the first century). Anywhere but here, anytime but now. I seem to think that He cannot lead His creatures in the times and places that He chose. So I work very hard to be an excellent “witness” of Him.
But wait a minute; He said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Perhaps living prophetically and excellently should be fun. I never think about the need to live as a Chinn or with green eyes. He chose all of that for me. He also chose and appointed me to go (into my time and place) and bear fruit (John 15:16). All of that is a natural process. Oak trees don’t grunt to push acorns through their branches.
Real life is a thousand miles from religious life. Our simple acts and real words bear fruit. Routinely. Effortlessly. Those ordinary human words and acts leave an eternal and living gift in our time and space. But the gift comes from God, not me. I am a mere conduit; I can’t do it and I can’t control it. He chose that for me. Just as He chose the Arabian deserts for the sandfish.
Could that be why Jesus told his disciples (and us) to take no thought for what they would eat, drink, or wear? Since all of that has already been chosen for us, we are free to live fully, joyfully, and without worry. Kind of like the sandfish.
For example, consider how most people relate to problems. We react, get depressed or angry, fixate, or self-destruct. Yet consider how the sandfish continually copes with a life and death issue of heat; it just dives five inches from the surface to where the temperature can be fifty degrees cooler. Do you think, if we have eyes to see, salvation may await us just inches away?
The same Mind that created the sandfish also created you and me. So can we find the same freedom and delight in our Creator as that lizard?