We have a nice little vegetable garden. After growing corn one year, we found the cutest little Pacific Northwest Tree Frog among the picked ears. I never would have guessed that Tree Frogs hang out in corn plants, but this little guy got "picked" right along with the corn and found himself stuck in a box in our garage. I planned on sending him back into the yard, but my youngest son had another idea. He wanted to keep the frog as a pet. This became a topic of a long discussion between us.
Neither my son nor I knew how to take care of a frog. Quite frankly, I was already very busy and didn't want any more work piled up on my shoulders. My son however argued that he would do all of the work involved with caring for the little guy, so I eventually agreed and took him to our local pet store. We bought the little guy a home, food (small crickets, in case you were wondering) and gave him the name "Cornball" because he was found in the corn. That little frog became a really good pet for my son. Not only was Cornball a good pet, he was also a good teacher.
As time went by, I would often ask my son questions like, "Did you give Cornball fresh water?" "Did you feed Cornball today?" "When was the last time you cleaned out Cornball's home?" These questions spurred my son into action. My son and I had several heart to heart discussions over the proper care of a pet during the years we had Cornball. It took a while, but eventually my son began to wrap his mind around the fact that Cornball was completely dependent upon him for food, water and a clean home. I told my son, "This is what it means to love something that can't earn our love".
This frog didn't buy or work his way into my son's heart, he was loved simply because my son chose to love him. Ironically, this whole experience illustrates our relationship with God. God pursues us when we need rescuing. He provides for us when we have needs. He names us by calling us His children. He adopts us as sons and daughters making us heirs to His kingdom, and most importantly, He loves us unconditionally. We can't buy or work our way into God's heart, He loves us simply because we are His creationHis children (Eph 2:8-9; 1Jn 3:1; 4:7-8). This is why His love is so amazing.
The apostle John tells us that love is from God and that God is love (1John 4:7-8). The capacity to love is a wondrous gift! It is part of the image God gave mankind. The more we understand love and express this gift the greater our ability to be like Christ. To really appreciate love, we first need to give love away. We do this by pouring our lives into someone, some group, our ministry, our family or even our pet without expecting anything in return. Every time we give our love away, we encounter the selfless, unconditional love God offers us and in this way, gain insight into the magnificent heart of our loving Creator.
So, can a frog love? I don't really know, but I do know this, we are capable of loving a frog. Learning to love anything, even a frog, enables us to love more freely.
JoAnne has been involved in ministries such as Bible teaching, speaking engagements, life groups, and pastoral counseling for over a decade. She received her MDiv degree in 2009, and is the author of Walk Free: An Uncommon Cure for the Common Heart. You can read more about her at http://www.faithwriters.com/websites/my_website.php?id=62384