At a Snail’s Pace


Since I live in an upstairs apartment…and have a patio far up off the ground…I find it rather amazing when I encounter snails during my weekly gardening efforts.

They seem particularly abundant as of late…but the truth be told I may have just turned a blind eye to these bothersome pests. Now I know that just saying that will offend some people who believe that all living creatures are wonderful. I have no doubt that God created these little fellers for a purpose and reason…and good comes from them…but at the moment that good purpose evades me.

Their rather irksome presence I could no longer ignore when a couple of weeks ago…the water flowing from my watering can was slowed down to a pathetic dribble. Being that I wanted to get my plants watered quickly…I thought I best to investigate the problem.

As I peeked into the watering can…I discovered not just a family of snails…but a whole congregation. Thus began my task to remove these icky creatures from my watering can. Sometimes I can be a rather tough cookie…but at heart…I’m a girly girl. Touching a snail will elicit a grimace on my face. Tentatively and with trepidation…I reached in to the blessed watering can time after time in my efforts to remove these yucky, slimy snails. Now I didn’t have gloves on. But for those of you who don’t know girly girls…we can be creative when it comes to dealing with the yucky disgusting things of life…including snails.

I’d use a paper towel…good for a couple of swipes to scoop them out of the can. Not seeing any further evidence of snails…I continued to water my plants…only to discover that the water flow was still blocked. Focusing my eagle eyes down the spout of the watering can…I found several more snails. Snails determined to remain in their new chosen home. Since I had bought the watering can…and they hadn’t paid a dime of rent…I decided to execute a quick eviction. No notice…just get out.

But they weren’t going to go easily. So I had to get creative and find small object to stick down that spout and poke them down to the main part of the container. Finally I got them where I wanted them…and was able to scoop them out and place them in the trash with their friends who earlier suffered the same fate.

Feeling quite accomplished that me…this girly girl…could touch these yucky snails…albeit via a paper towel…I felt I had triumphed.

As I started watering my plants I found that not only are the snails icky…but so was the waste they left behind. Rather stinky and slimy…just like the snails. Okay, okay…I dealt with that too. Then I was able to finish my watering duties for that week.

Believing that I had addressed this issue…I was dismayed when last week and again this week…the snails had returned. But at least now I was getting to be an expert at removing them and this time a little less squeamish and more determined to remove these pesky little pests.

But I came away from this experience wanting to know what good purpose snails serve. Logging on to my trusty internet…I didn’t find much good said about them. Oh yes there were some sites that like to introduce to children the wonders of the world…including snails. They even noted that snails make good pets. I guess if I had no other pet options than a snail…I might give that a try…but by golly why have a snail when you could have dog or cat or bird…or even a fish.

Doesn’t make a lot of sense to this girl. I’d much rather have puppy dog or kitty cat napping besides me…than a disgusting creature that makes me want to washed my hands several times.

My web search did reveal that snails in fact cause a lot of damage to plants and fruit:

” Snails and slugs are among the most bothersome pests in many garden and landscape situations.”

“Several species of slugs are frequently damaging. Snails and slugs move by gliding along on a muscular “foot.” This muscle constantly secretes mucus, which later dries to form the silvery “slime trail” that signals the presence of either pest.”

“Snails and slugs are most active at night and on cloudy or foggy days. On sunny days they seek hiding places out of the heat and bright light; often the only clues to their presence are their silvery trails and plant damage.”

“Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants. On plants they chew irregular holes. They can also chew fruit and young plant bark. Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they are primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they are also serious pests of ripening fruits. They will also feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus are especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm damage was caused by snails.”

So right about now…you are saying, “Okay Susan, thanks for the lesson on snails…do you actually have a point here?” And indeed I do. While I didn’t find much in the literature to suggest that snails were beneficial to plants and fruit…I saw a definite illustration as to the damage of metaphorical snails in the life of a Christian.

Are you finding your flow is plugged up and what’s coming out of you is down to a dribble and you aren’t able to get the job done? When you take a closer look at your Christian walk…and your lack of fruit do see some rather icky things that are destroying your growth or fruit? Do you get an occasion whiff of some pretty stinky waste left behind by these pests? Is your spiritual garden one that invites pests and destructive creatures or do you have a good defense against them? When you identify them…do you dispose of these spiritual snails quickly?

Just like taking care of your garden…means identifying and getting rid of pests that destroy fruit and kill the plants…you must also do so with spiritual pests.

What are some of those pests that you need to rid yourself of? When you look at your life…or more to the point…when others look at you what do they see?

Are you walking in love? Can it be said that you are patient? Would others describe you as kind and caring? Do you see signs of envy or jealousy? Does pride tend to get a hold of you as evidenced by boastfulness? Are you rude…and first and foremost thinking of yourself? Do you tend to keep a checklist of wrongs done to you…only to whip it out at just the right moment to remind the offending party of an incident that occurred 6 years, 2 months, 3 days and 4 hours ago…not that anyone is keeping track? How do you feel when something bad happens to someone whom you don’t like?

Does the above list describe you? If so…it’s kind of like the slimy trail that a snail leaves behind. While you may not readily see the snail…you can see evidence of him. Be it leaves that have been munched on or fruit that is damaged and is only worthy of the trash…or seeing a slimly silvery trail…you can follow the evidence of the snail’s destruction.

So what are you going to do to guard your heart and mind? What steps do you need to take to rid yourself of these destructive pests? What regular maintenance are you going to put in place in your life to ensure that your spiritual garden is free of snails? And what will be evidence of your success?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Lest you think I’m being holier than thou…please know that God graciously deals with me when I stumble…and fail to live up to that which brings him honor and glory. But thank you God…for your grace and mercy…and your Spirit that dwells within each believer. Enabling us to continue to grow and be conformed into the image and likeness of your Son Jesus Christ. Praise God!

One thought on “At a Snail’s Pace

  1. Well, that’s an interesting analogy. I don’t think many Christians want to identify the pests that prevent their gardens from being fruitful, however. They might say, “Ew. I don’t want to scoop that out, even with a paper towel.” You see, it might mean throwing away a few reality shows or paring down the number of activities they have their kids in. It might mean cutting lose of a few relationships that are stunting their growth. Interesting, those snails, aren’t they? They just creep in slowly when you’re not looking.

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