His name is Howard. Each evening he drops by my house by way of the backyard. I am alerted of his arrival thanks to my not-so-fierce Schnoodle who does her best to growl at our visitor. I can't see him on the deck, covered in the darkness of the night sky but the moment Pippy makes her way towards the back door I know that Howard is back to say hello.
I rush to the door, quieting Pippy as I reach for the light. I flip the switch and, without fail, Howard is there, directly on the other side of the door, unfazed by the barking beast on the other side of the glass. He is calm as a cucumber….or should I say, calm as an opossum. After all, that's who Howard is, an opossum.
I must admit, opossums aren't the cutest of creatures. No offense to Howard, but his appearance doesn't scream, "Hold me! Cuddle me! Love me!" The sight of an opossum usually elicits a much different response, more along the lines of, "eww" or "get it off of my deck…now!"
Despite Howard's unappealing appearance I am not disgusted with his visits to my deck. Granted, I speak from the opossum-free inside of the house where I am separated by a thick sheet of glass from Howard's smelly fur and fifty teeth. If I were standing on the deck with him I might not be so tolerant. But in our current indoor/outdoor positions I can handle the nightly addition of Howard's visits.
My Dad, on the other hand, would rather that Howard not come around at all. His immediate response is to reach for the nearest object worthy of swinging (probably a tennis racquet) and attempt to shoo away the unwelcome intruder. I immediately put a stop to what could very well border on wildlife cruelty. I don't want a visit from the National Opossum Society (and yes, it does exist and no, I am not going to request membership).
So Howard has been given free reign over the garbage cans and trash bags on the back deck each night. He makes quite a mess which I am left picking up on the night before the garbage man is due to come by, but it is a small matter. If digging through trash makes Howard happy then, by all means, dig away little opossum. Just don't try to come into the kitchen. Then we may have a problem.
Just the other night as I watched Howard through the security of the back doors I couldn't help but marvel at God's curious imagination. Why did He create such awkward and strange creatures, such as Howard? What are these unappealing opossums meant to accomplish anyway? Why did God make them and lots of other animals that I usually classify as a nuisance?
Someday when I get to heaven I'm going to ask God about all of these peculiar animals. I'm sure He will have a good answer to share. After all, there are no mistakes with God. He has a purpose for everything.
When I look at Howard and consider the lives of all the wild animals that populate God's creation I am struck by this truth: God has created them all, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. He has molded and formed each of these animals as part of a bigger plan. You and I may look at an animal like Howard and see a disease infested rodent but God sees an intricately woven creation of His design.
That is how God sees me and the my life, too. When I look at my past mistakes and my present circumstances I am tempted to see nothing but the regret and guilt of my past and the trials of my present. But God sees a greater design. He sees the beauty of His creation in the child He formed and molded before the world began. He sees my life's journey as a detailed plan that He has plotted and prepared for long before I was even a twinkle in my Mother's eye. There is so much that is perplexing to me; so much that I don't yet understand. The twists and turns, ups and downs leave me scratching my head and asking, "what is this all for?" God is saying, I am working out the life I have created for you.
If God has a purpose for the bewildering opossums and their strange garbage-digging behaviors, then I can rest assured that God has a purpose for me and my life. Every person and animal created by His hand has a reason for being. Every road and path we travel while following God, no matter how obscure and convoluted it may feel, has a purpose. Because our Heavenly Father has a vivid and mysterious imagination. You and I can't comprehend it. But when we trust that God's ways are better than our own we are able to embrace the most puzzling of people, craziest of animals and the most baffling of circumstances knowing that God is using them to fulfill His ultimate purposes and glorious plan.
So maybe that is why Howard was created, to reassure you and I that if God created even the crazy opossum with a purpose then there is most certainly a purpose for each of us, His beloved children.