Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

An Anole Named Ava


Anyone who has lived in Florida or anywhere else in the southeast region of the United States has come across an anole. You might have called them lizards, but the accurate name for these diminutive, fast-moving little buggers is anole.

They live on a diet of insects and spiders, so we like having them around . . . outside. However, on occasion, an anole will make its way inside. Two nights ago, one did just that. It ran into the house when I opened the front door.

I spent the next few minutes trying to corral it, to no avail. He dashed under some furniture and disappeared from view into what, to him, must have seemed like a giant playground waiting to be explored. But what he didn’t know is that, for him, it was a playground of death.

I wasn’t trying to kill the little guy. I wanted to save him—to return him to where he belonged. Where he would have a better chance of finding food and living a long life. And I knew that if he stayed inside, he wouldn’t last. Past experience taught me the result is never good.

Erika holding an anoleBut as I chased this unwanted visitor around the house, I came face-to-face with a second uncomfortable truth: this anole and I had a lot in common.

On more than one occasion I’ve left where I should be to wander where I shouldn’t be. And instead of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He called me to leave where I didn’t belong, I ran deeper into trouble because it looked attractive. Fun. Exciting. Different. A giant playground waiting to be explored. But the Lord knows better than I that it’s a playground of death.

Although the Holy Spirit tries to get my attention, how often do I fail to listen? Instead, I run in the opposite direction because I’m convinced I know best. Just call me an anole. Running from the One who desires what’s best for me and tries to stop me before I make a fatal error.

I have a much better perspective of the big picture than my stray anole. And God has a much better perspective of the big picture than I do. Yet my natural inclination is to go my own way. Why is that?

The apostle Paul makes it clear I’m not the only one with these tendencies. In his letter to the early Roman church, he wrote, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate . . . So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:15, 17-18).

But God didn’t leave us in this condition. Paul bursts into praise at the solution to our human condition: “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv. 24-25).

That’s the difference between me and the anole. I wasn’t able to save him. But God saved me. He did what I couldn’t do for myself. He reached out to rescue me through Jesus Christ. And there isn’t anything this temporary world can offer that compares to the eternal relationship offered by my heavenly Father. No shiny, exciting distractions. No empty promises. No playgrounds fraught with fatal missteps.

From this day forward I purpose to not be like the anole.

How about you?


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  1. Sharon

    I am sitting here laughing. What a good analogy! I am also like the anole! Praise be to our Lord and Savior for taking us out of this playground of death and placing us in our natural habitat—His heart. Thank you, Ava. I love this. A great way to start the day!

  2. Dave

    Love those little critters. They’re all over our house outside and a few inside now and then.

  3. Melissa Henderson

    This reminds me of my story “Licky the Lizard”. I don’t want lizards in the house or even on the porch. I chase them away with the broom. I am thankful God chases after me when I am lost. I am thankful to be His daughter.

  4. Jessica Brodie

    I love this so much! Lizards were my cat’s favorite playthings during my growing-up years in Florida, and I always tried to save them, often without luck. I too purpose NOT to be like the anole. Great piece!!

  5. Melinda Viergever Inman

    We have lizards, and I’m with you. There are plenty of lessons to learn from them. We don’t want to scurry into places that will end up being dangerous or a death trap. Rather, we want to heed the Lord’s words and entrust our lives to him. He’s in charge of the outcome and the lessons along the way.

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    They are cute little creatures but not when inside, lol. I enjoyed your accurate account of how we can be like the anole. We do wander into wrong places and must be rescued by God again and again. I pray someday to learn my lesson and stop wandering off. Thanks Ava.

  7. Karen Friday

    Fun and powerful analogy, Ava. I imagined you trying to get the anole back outside where it belonged. We all have those times we wander away from where we should be into places disguised by the enemy. I’m so thankful the antidote for this problem is how Jesus delivers us from this body of death!

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