Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

I’ve had some unexpected—and unwanted—visitors this past week.

The first occurred when I let the dogs out one evening for their final outing. A tree frog took the opportunity to hop into the house. Let’s just say he was not easy to catch. Of course, attempting to catch a frog while trying to corral two large boxers is no easy task to begin with. But with a little perseverance, I captured Mr. Tree Frog and released him outside.

Two days later, I’m sitting at my laptop when my dog fixates on a corner in the living room. I get up to see why she’s so laser-focused, but there’s nothing there. The dog remains unconvinced and becomes more agitated. Now I’m wondering what she knows that I don’t know. On the off chance something’s hiding, I angle the furniture away from the wall and find a big, fat lizard, at least 8 inches long.

So, once again I corral the dogs and lock them up. Then I chase the lizard around the house until I catch it. Actually, I caught it 3 times, but it kept escaping. The 4th time was the charm and Mr. Lizard is now enjoying the outside…where he belongs.

Of course, neither of these visitors compares with the alligator who crashed a window to enter a house elsewhere in Florida. Thankfully—and with apologies to that homeowner—I’m glad the gator was not my unwanted visitor #3.

I consider myself to be a lover of nature, but I’m sure you’ll understand when I say some components of nature belong outside and need to remain there.

Which brings me to us…

How do we know where we belong? Or who we belong to?

For Christ-followers, I Corinthians 3:13 tells us Christians belong to Christ. So what we do and where we go should be guided by who we belong to.

Just as a tree frog does not belong in my house, there are places I don’t belong either. This is not about being legalistic, nor is it about isolating ourselves from those who don’t know Christ. It is about making wise choices about my entertainment, the work I do, and the values I espouse. It has everything to do with the books I read, movies I watch, and how I spend my time.

True confession…when I was a new Christian in my early 20s, I was invited to be a bridesmaid for a childhood friend. Her bachelorette party was a girls’ night out at a bar watching men dance and encouraging them with dollar bills—if you know what I mean.

I knew I did not belong there. I was as out-of-place as that tree frog in my living room. But I didn’t have the courage to decline, and I didn’t have the courage to leave by myself after our group arrived. Instead, I sat in a corner, slumped down in my seat, nursed a soda, and prayed the night would end quickly.

Oh, and I prayed for one more thing. You see, as a fairly new Christian, I had only recently learned about eschatology (theology related to end-times). I was terrified Jesus might return that night. I did not want to be seen coming out of a male dance club to join Jesus in the air!

That embarrassing and convicting evening happened almost 40 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. And the lesson has stayed with me all these years: don’t go where I don’t belong.

I belong to Christ. My identity is wrapped up in Him. The direction of my thoughts, the words I speak, the things I do, and the places I go are to reflect Who I belong to. That means listening for the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do or go—or not to do or go, rather than following other people. It means understanding that what is okay for someone else, even other Christians, will not always be okay for me.

It also means being willing—and having the courage—to stand alone in obedience to Adonai, the sovereign Lord who purchased me out of the slave market of sin to belong to Him.

Who do you belong to?
If you belong to Christ, do your choices reflect your identity?

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  1. Vicki Wickert

    Ava I had a similar experience also many years ago,
    And mine was a bus trip the pastors wife arranged to
    Manhattan to see the Chippendales ! I felt so out of
    Place I hovered in the bathroom as long as possible!
    Several of us very naive young women thought we were
    Seeing a furniture exhibit! That helped me learn more
    Discernment about where I go AND with whom!
    Thanks for the valuable reminder! Much love, Vicki

  2. Ava Pennington

    Grateful for lessons learned!

  3. Deb Gardner Allard

    This is such a good post! I love the writing as well as the
    Lesson. Truly, we must present Christ to the world instead of becoming or fitting into the world. Thanks for posting.

  4. Ava Pennington

    Thank you for your encouragement, Deb.

  5. Candice Brown

    So true. I love to sing karaoke and just went last night to do so, the last place in the world a sober alcoholic should go when feeling low. God redeemed the visit and I didn’t drink, but I need to be wiser. Thanks for the conviction, my friend!

  6. Ava Pennington

    We all need this reminder, Candice!

  7. Melinda Viergever Inman

    This is SO true! Thank you for making me laugh as I read and imagined your critter chasing and your strip club/Rapture words. I needed to laugh! But, seriously, yes, we belong to Christ. We are his representatives, and we are members of his family. This was a great (and amusing) reminder.

  8. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Melinda. So glad I could make you smile!

  9. Julie Loos

    Great reminder!

  10. Jennifer Allong Bratt

    I haven’t tweeted in a very long time and nearly missed this valuable and learnt lesson. I myself in my younger days had found myself in undesirable places. Since becoming a Christian and having the Holy Spirit, conviction comes and makes us aware of where we aught not to be and with whom.

  11. Ava Pennington

    So true, Jennifer. Thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!

  12. Evie

    So true!! Thank you for the reminder of who we belong to and where we belong!!

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