In a book I was reading recently, the author described three types of people using two sets of illustrations. In the first he asked, are you a sheep, wolf, or sheepdog? The second list was like the first with the exception that he added another category: a possum. Who wants to be a possum? According to the author a sheep and a possum are pretty much defenseless. A sheep without a shepherd is lost. A possum, well since I have never heard of a possum rancher,the possum are on their own. They have only one defense mechanism available, namely rolling up and playing dead. I have been to many conferences in my day, and yet I never heard of one extolling the virtues of playing dead. I tried to understand that he was speaking in categories. Sheep are somewhat passive, shepherds are here in this world to lead, care for and protect the flock. Wolves are predators. From this point forward my thoughts have nothing whatsoever to do with the author or his ideas. I want to talk about the possums in church. One day I had a possum in my garage. I was alerted to it by the constant and unceasing barking of my dog. The barking immediately told me something was amiss. I went downstairs opened the garage door and there was my dog barking at a possum. I went and got the dog under control, opened the garage door and waited for the possum to leave. Instead the possum went into the fetal position and pretended to be dead. Not having training in possum extraction. I got a large push broom and swept his pretend dead carcass onto the driveway and shut the garage door. After showering and dressing and pondering what I was going to do with the dead possum on my driveway. I determined that I would call the youth pastor, after all he would be in a position to know what to do with the unexpected. But to my surprise the creature wasn’t dead but was just playing ‘possum’. The drive way was clear and there was no sign of the possum anywhere.
I subsequently learned that though slow and somewhat passive a possum can become crazed and mean when disturbed and cornered. A few told me how fortunate I was that possum did not turn on me. When I reflected on it, I realized I was quite safe having spent years trying to get people to wake up and move. You know who I am talking about, folks, who lethargically walk into service 15 minutes late and sit as far back as possible and give off few signs of life. I assure you they are not dead, they are just playing possum. Do not under any circumstance poke or prod them. They are docile until riled. I have run into these people in restaurants at lunch time after church. They are laughing and happy and almost jumping up and down. It must be the food that has brought their blood sugar levels back to the level of the living.
Of all the things I want or desire to be in life, a possum is not one of them. No offense intended but to me at least, they are ugly and nasty. I know someone will point to me the wonderful purpose they serve. Such as scaring people and giving people work scraping their carcasses off the roads and highways of America.
Maybe the kindest way of expressing this is to say I need to wake up and quit playing like I am dead and get involved and engaged in this life that I have been given as a gift from my Creator. I would much rather be a sheep than a possum. (Editors note) Oh and yes I know ‘possum’ is not the correct spelling, that it is rather called an ‘opossum” but really possum just sounds better. Plus both are listed in the dictionary!
Lets quit playing dead, God has a lot for each of us to do today! Blessings!