Alligators and Oysters

The pleasure of poling a pirogue down a narrow marshland canal in predawn solitude is invigorating. There is a kaleidoscope of sounds formed by geese honking, nutria squealing, ducks quacking, and alligators bellowing. All of these marsh sounds set one’s imagination on fire.

This fascinating place is populated by a rare group of people known as Cajuns. They are hardy descendants who gravitated there from Nova Scotia and Canada. One old Cajun there wears a necklace made of alligator teeth. A visitor commented, “I suppose those are the same as a string of pearls to us.” “No,” he said, “Anybody can open an oyster.” Without saying it, getting the teeth from an alligator requires a risky effort. Comparatively, opening an oyster is easy.

Anybody can do the easy, simple task. It takes someone extraordinary to do the exceptional. Anybody can open an oyster, but it takes someone extraordinary to wrestle an alligator.

If you know a successful person you know someone who has suffered. A bubble doesn’t rise to the surface of water without consistently overcoming the resistance of the water. It swills around to minimize the resistance to rise.

It takes an exceptional person to stick with a difficult task, a special person to stand up for a worthy cause in face of opposition, and a strong-willed individual to not compromise when opposed.

John Bunyan, author of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” was threatened and imprisoned because of his faith. When offered his release if he would renounce his faith he said, “I will stay in this dungeon until the moss grows out of my eyebrows before I will make a butchery of my conscience or a slaughter house of my convictions.” That is a real alligator wrestler.

William Penn asserted his alligator grip when he professed, “Right is right though all men be against it, and wrong is wrong though all men be for it.”

The healthy heartbeat of a productive person is a life produced by a challenge afforded by competitive struggle. Without it life is bland and bleached. Struggle produces strength.

Every day we choose between alligators and oysters. We make our choices and then our choices make us.

The next time there is a difficult, but potentially productive job to be done, choose your necklace. Anybody can open an oyster.        

Happiness is found in completing a job that requires your own brain and skill.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5)