Recently, my husband and I took our pop-up camper and spent two nights at Table Rock State Park in the Foothills of South Carolina. This was our second excursion out since acquiring the camper so renewing our camping skills has been part of the adventure. We were not expecting such rainy weather throughout our first evening’s stay–the kind of rain that sets in and presents more of a challenge at times than pleasure. After listening to the rain beat down on the top of the camper off and on throughout the night, we were grateful to be dry inside the camper the next morning and faced the day with more optimism since the sun eventually broke through the clouds and decided to shine. My hope was that all the wet surroundings would dry off quickly so life was easier to deal with, and we could relax and enjoy the beautiful nature around us.
In the middle of the afternoon, Rip and I and our little dog Tostito set off for a walk around the park to explore and get some exercise. We decided that we would stay on the paved roads so headed toward the Amphitheater area and the Barn. Walking with Tosti means that the pace can be slow as we walk close to grassy areas so he can stop, sniff, and do his business. As we sauntered along, finally able to walk more in the middle of the parking lots surrounding the area, I looked down to see a snail in the center part of the concrete pavement–for a snail that meant many “miles” from any natural dirt and foliage. The snail caught my attention because its soft body was partially outside the shell–moving ever so slowly leaving its trail of mucus behind– but I thought it must be searching for its natural habitat away from the concrete pavement that was heating up with the sun beating down. It was fascinating to watch the snail’s unhurried yet deliberate movement, but upon touching the shell, the creature decided it needed to completely emerge back into its spiral “castle” of protection. Rip had stopped to peer at it but was not as enamored as I was. I wondered what might happen to it but did not think too much about it; my husband gently moved it with his foot, taking it further away from its natural habitat. Clearly seeing that the snail was embedded in its shell and not returning to the outside world at the moment, we ambled on.
Our little hike did not take us far. We walked to where a dirt trail began but with the wet conditions decided not to try it so we traipsed up into the parking lot behind the barn and then back down the pavement the way we had come. Our path once again took us back by the snail’s shell. I even mentioned out loud that I wondered what would happen to such a creature if it did not get back to the forest’s edge. In typical Rip fashion, he replied that it was just a snail. I do not remember how I responded to that answer, but we both began walking away as if the creature really did not matter. Then without a word, my husband turned around and walked back to the shell, picked it up and walked over to the edge of the trees and foliage, still damp with moisture. He gently placed the shell a foot or so away from the pavement edge, clearly in a safe place with the nourishment and conditions the snail needed to thrive. This action was not necessarily deserved, but this act of grace took someone reaching down with compassion and helping the snail out of its predicament. The snail may have gotten out into the road onto the concrete pavement because of the rain or it possibly got close enough to the edge of the pavement that its curiosity kept it exploring. Either way the snail was not necessarily in a good place at the time we came along and found it.
This moment reminded me of God’s grace that reaches down for me. How often have I gotten myself in a predicament sometimes by choice or other times by things outside of my control. Either way, I am stuck–lost and confused in an unnatural place–not sure how I am going to make it back to where I should have never strayed from or been taken in the first place. At times, God has picked me up and helped me back to safety when I make the ask. Other times, He has shown me the error of my ways and the consequences I must face in order to solve the dilemma at hand. Then in other circumstances, He decides to just walk beside me or carry me for awhile. Regardless, He does not just walk by; He stops and offers me grace–His grace that is freely given without conditions. He is always there to help even after we make a bad decision or choice that tends to trap us on a hot concrete pavement that seems to goes on and on for miles without end. He is there for you as well…in His unfailing love he daily offers grace for the journey.