This past Sunday at our home church a gentleman began praying for a woman to be healed of cancer. He told her that although he’s never seen anyone healed, he completely believes in healing. I wanted to interrupt and scream about all of the healings I’ve seen! But where would I begin? I giggled under my breath as I remembered the first time I saw someone healed. That someone I saw healed wasn’t a someone at all…he was our pet…snail.
Hey, everyone has a version 1. Version 1 is the prototype that inevitably is improved upon before version 2 is ready for market. Think of this story as a very true “rough draft” on my road to learning to pray for others to be healed.
Why did God heal our snail? It wasn’t my faith. I didn’t believe He actually would. It also wasn’t my super-holy-magic prayer. It definitely wasn’t my boldness or courage. In fact, our story begins with me hiding from my kids. My guess? God healed our snail because: why NOT heal a snail? He sits in heaven and does what he pleases (Psalm 115:3). It must have pleased Him to heal Turbo, because He did…3 times!
An Epic Beginning
Our story begins with me crouching down in the kitchen hiding from my 3 and 4 year old children. I’m not proud. I was holding something tiny, gold, and very dead in my hand. His name was Turbo. Turbo was our “pet” snail, and he had apparently drowned in his water dish.
I was hiding with the stupid dead snail because I needed to buy some time to think about how I was going to tell the kids that their treasured snail was dead. He was very dead. No question about it. His shiny gold shell was see-through. We often marveled at how cool it was to watch his heart beat through the shell. This time his heart wasn’t beating. At all. He was oh-so-very dead. Poor fella. Who knows how long he had been dead in his water dish? But he was definitely very dead. He wasn’t even mostly dead. It is very important for you to know how very very dead Turbo was. The snail was definitely a goner.
It was a shame that Turbo had most definitely died this time. I say “this time” because the last time Turbo was at deaths door God healed him. Oh yes my friend. You heard me. God.healed.a.snail. Oh I know how crazy I sound. Imagine how crazy I felt trying to explain it to my kids.
You see, My 4 year old son first found Turbo crawling on our pool early in the summer. None of us had ever seen a bright gold metallic snail before. He was magnificent! He almost glowed! Of course we had to keep him. We jumped on the internet and began learning all about snails. We made a habitat for him. We stopped swimming in the pool so it would produce algae for him to eat. We gave him tons of rotten fruit. He was a happy little snail…until one fateful day when my son accidently launched him off of the pool and on to the hard cement below.
My son was choking back tears when he brought Turbo inside. “I didn’t mean to hurt him! I was just taking him for a walk. I thought he might want to get out of his home and go on a field trip with me to the back deck!”, he sobbed. I took a close look at Turbo. His beautiful gold shell was cracked worse than an egg. I didn’t know what to say or what to do, so naturally I hopped back on the internet. Sadly, the only information I could find clearly stated that a cracked shell is most definitely always fatal for a snail.
As I was debating whether I should attempt to put nail polish on the crack or duct tape (you know, so at least I could console the kids by telling them that at least I tried SOMETHING) , a thought came into my head. What if we laid hands on the shattered invertebrate and prayed for him? It was a hail mary attempt at best, but at least I wouldn’t have to cut microscopic strips of duct tape. So I did what any reasonable snail mother would do and grabbed the anointing oil, Ahem, I mean olive oil out of the cabinet. Turbo wasn’t going down on my watch!
I held Turbo in my hand and called the kids in. We each touched him with one finger. I muddled some sort of super religious prayer with big fancy words. I assumed that the holier the prayer sounded to my kids the more they would believe that I had done literally everything possible to save our precious “pet”. At least we would know that my lack of fancy praying skills wouldn’t be the reason that he croaked. I nailed it!
We put turbo back in his home and brought him some fresh algae. I tried to reassure the kids that Turbo would be “good as new” in the morning. I kissed their sad faces, tucked them in bed, and said “God’s got Turbo”. Then I went downstairs to rehearse which reason I would give them as to why they woke up and found Turbo dead. I was debating between “It wasn’t God’s will”, “God needed another angel”, and “He didn’t get his healing on earth but he’s healed now in heaven”. I decided to go to bed myself and just wing it with the excuse when I woke up. “After all”, I told myself, “kids are resilient.”
Early the next morning I sensed a presence in my room. As I clawed my way out of a deep sleep and in to reality, I saw the shape of my son. As my eyes began to focus I realized that he wasn’t alone. He held Turbo in his hand as he climbed in bed with me. “Mom! Turbo has a new shell! God healed him”. I shot straight up, partially out of confusion and partially because there was now a snail in my bed. I cleared the sleep from my eyes, put my glasses on, and reached for the snail. I thought I was being pranked.
I couldn’t believe what I saw! Every place on Turbos shell that had been cracked the day before had a sealed ridge on it. It literally looked like the stupid snail had been to an auto body shop overnight and had been welded back together. You know, welded with shiny gold shell welding material or something. Or maybe God used caulking. Who knew? Not me! So I left my son jumping on the bed and hopped on the internet again. Nope. Snail shells don’t regenerate on their own. I was at a total loss.
Then another idea crept in. What if God had ACTUALLY healed the snail? Could He? Would He? Was my prayer just so good that God couldn’t ignore it? Was the olive oil magic? WHAT JUST HAPPENED? One thing I knew for sure…that snail was special! Or maybe God was just weird. Regardless, it was now settled in my heart that Turbo was most definitely “our pet”.
So back to me hiding in the kitchen. In light of the previous snail welding, I have to confess that I was disappointed to be holding a dead body. The little guy had grown on me. As I crouched down next to the dishwasher I had a conversation with God. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?????!!!!! I literally just explained to my kids how you healed their pet. We all experienced you reaching down from heaven to touch our snail and our hearts. Turbo taught us that you care about your creation. Turbo showed us that you do creative miracles. Turbo taught us that you care about even the silly things that vex us. We experienced YOU because of this silly snail. Now all we have is a shiny gold welded shell as a shallow reminder. Do you care, or don’t you? I’m confused.” That was all I could manage to get out before I heard the pitter patter of my kids running in to the kitchen.
“Hi mom”, my son said. “Whatcha got there?” Busted. I had no time to think so I just said the first thing that came to my mind. “I was just getting ready to call you and your sister in to help me pray for Turbo. It seems he is not feeling well. I think he might have had too much water last night.” I know, I know. As the words came out of my mouth I felt like a complete idiot. It was the best I could do considering that I had just been caught hiding in the kitchen with a dead body.
So my son grabbed my daughter and I grabbed the olive oil. Again we each placed a finger on the tiny gold shell. It was unclear to me whether the kids actually knew that Turbo was gone, so I prayed a very vague prayer. I didn’t want them to know that this was a “raise the dead” situation, so I said a simple “heal the sick” prayer so as not to point out the obvious. We all said “amen”, then I slipped Turbos tiny lifeless body back in his home. I swallowed hard, and then whispered “Please God, don’t smite me for lying!” under my breath.
Later that afternoon I saw my son and daughter outside harvesting algae off of the pool. Turbos home was outside with them. I braced myself for the worst. I was now certain that they had discovered that Turbo was dead, although I wasn’t sure why they were still harvesting algae for him. I went to our treat basket and grabbed some candy to take to the kids. I was hoping that candy would help to “soften the blow” of learning of Turbo’s tragic demise and Gods sudden disinterest in our pet. I mentally rehearsed my “he got his healing in heaven” speech, took a deep breath, and slowly stepped outside.
When I got close to the kids I suddenly realized that they weren’t alone. You could not have convinced me in that moment that ghosts don’t exist. I had to blink a few times because I wasn’t sure I was seeing correctly. Yup. It was definitely there. Turbo was adhered to the pool and taking an afternoon stroll. Behind him was a fresh “snail trail” of slime. I got closer just to verify that the snail in question was definitely Turbo and definitely not a ghost. Gold shell, Check! Gold ridge over the formerly broken gold shell, Check. Beating heart observed through formerly broken but now welded gold shell, check. Definitely Turbo and definitely alive. I’m not going to lie, I don’t think it was a “hallelujah” that came out of my mouth.
“Whatcha guys doing”, was all I could manage to say to my kids after I had gained my composure. “Hi mom! Turbo is feeling better so we decided to take him out for another field trip. Oh, and he needs fresh water and algae.” “I’m so glad he is feeling better”, I said still in disbelief. “What do you guys think happened? Why is he suddenly alive, -I mean- well?” “God healed him again”, they both said matter-of-factly. They didn’t even look up when they said it. They just kept gathering algae like it was a perfectly normal day. I retreated slowly back in to the house like a complete coward.
I had either just witnessed my second creative miracle, or I was certifiable. I wasn’t sure which one. As I watched my kids play on the back deck I started talking to God. Again, I was a bit disrespectful. “Um, God? WHAT WAS THAT? I can’t even explain what happened to myself, let alone my kids! What is with you and this snail? Did you really just heal a SNAIL twice? My best friend just died of metastatic breast cancer. Did you give her miracle to the stupid snail?” It was just too risky for my heart to believe. There was too much at stake. I ended my prayer with “God you are just so weird”. It was the only “respectful” insult I could think of to hurl at God.
But God wasn’t through with me yet, and he certainly wasn’t through with Turbo. Turbo enjoyed a lovely summer with the kids. He slept upside down in his home at night, and ate fresh algae and rotten fruit in between field trips to the back deck each day. His weld ridge filled gold shell shone brilliantly imperfect in the summer sun. As the kids began to lose interest in their pet, I slowly took over caring for him. I’m really more of a dog person, but that silly snail had really grown on me. I even caught myself affectionately calling him “Lazarus” from time to time.
In late summer the unthinkable happened. I woke up one morning and realized that I had forgotten about our tiny pet. The kids hadn’t mentioned him and I had otherwise occupied myself with the business of “momming”. As I walked downstairs I tried to remember the last time I had fed Turbo or even checked on him. I got close to his home and stopped dead in my tracks. Evidently it had been quite a while. The smell was awful! I no longer held on to the hope that Turbo had managed to survive my negligence. The scene was horrific. There was rotten fruit and rotten snail all tangled together in a putrid web. I could barely tell where one stopped and the other started. Both the fruit and the snail were growing hair, I mean mold. He was no doubt, unmistakably, deader that dead this time. He was barely recognizable. Alas, such a tragic end to such a cool pet!
It WOULD be tragic if that was ACTUALLY the end. But our story doesn’t end here. You see, I had learned some things along the way. I had learned that I can’t kill that which God has ordained to live (with my apologies to all of the dead succulents in my house). I had also learned that clearly what I say in a prayer doesn’t matter. I had prayed a fancy prayer the first time, and I had straight lied to my kids in prayer the second time. The snail didn’t live BECAUSE OF my prayer, it lived IN SPITE of my prayer. I also learned that my kids clearly had more belief than I did. It wasn’t a stretch for them to believe that God would heal their snail. They inspired me to let go and start believing like a child again. Lastly, I had always been told that a person was healed (or not) solely based on their level faith. Those with faith were healed. Those without faith were not. Yet, the weirdness of the great snail healings had now caused me to reexamine this belief. How could the snail have faith? He was dead. Ah, and he was a SNAIL. Snails cant have faith, can they?
You know who else couldn’t have had faith for healing because he was also dead? Lazarus. And I bet he was just as stinky as Turbo. With the story of Lazarus fresh in my head, I put on gloves and a mask and removed the gold ridged shell from his hairy home. I held him in my gloved hand for a minute, then checked for a heartbeat. I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. Not only was there no heartbeat, but there was no discernable body. Only the shell (and the smell) remained. Yet, I couldn’t seem to put him down. “Why not go for it”, I dared myself.
I didn’t bother with the oil this time. I simply thanked God for all that He had taught me throughout our journey with Turbo. I read the story of Lazarus out loud over Turbos shell. Like Jesus, I thanked God that He heard me. Then I mustered up as much childlike belief as I could and commanded Turbo to “Come Out!” I opened my eyes and waited. Drumroll please…
Nothing. No triumphant resurrection. No sudden manifestation of a new body. No heartbeat. Just a gold ridged shell with mold. “Oh well”, I said as I put the shell in a cup. It wasn’t a total loss. At least we had a cool shell to keep. It would forever remind us of the summer that God used a tiny snail to teach us about His weirdness, I mean His greatness.
I have taught my kids since infancy that there are no sad endings in life thanks to Jesus. Jesus redeems EVERYTHING. If the bad guys look like they are winning, it just means the story isn’t done yet. Hang on for the end and see how Jesus redeems the good guys! If the good guys are experiencing tragedy that just means the story isn’t done yet! Hang on for the happy ending! There may be bad guys in their lives. There may be tragedy in their lives. There may be sadness in their lives. But, that isn’t where their story ends. It just means God isn’t done writing the end yet. Hang on for the happy ending.
Guess what? Not only did Turbos story NOT end in death, but it had the happiest of endings possible! I think Turbo would agree that he had a happy ending. Up until that summer I would have never imagined that a snail could feel happy. But then again, I would have never imagined that a snail could be welded or raised from the dead twice either. You heard me right. TWICE. Yet there I was, scooping up a very much ALIVE snail from the cup I had placed him in earlier that day. I put his bodiless shell in the cup by the sink, and discovered him walking around the rim of the cup later that day when I went to wash dishes. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I assure you that this is all gospel truth.
Turbos story ends with him being surrounded by his whole family. We decided that it was time to let our miracle snail go. Together we released him in to my garden on the back deck. He could eat all the rotten fruit he wanted to there, and it was right next to the algae tub…I mean pool. He would always be our first pet. He would always be our weirdest pet. He would forever be the reason that I got to know “Weird God”.
Weird (Adjective) Connected with fate or destiny; able to influence fate.