Stop Playing Possum!
I woke up in mid-air!
Flying off my bed in a cold sweat, I heard my normally-docile Labrador Misty barking, snarling, and smashing her claws against the door with an intensity I’d never seen from her. “Someone must be breaking in,” I thought as I ran down the hallway toward her. I was running and focused on these troubling thoughts when my right little toe met the leg of the credenza in our hall.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiieeeeeeeooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwchhhhhhhhhhh!” Now my barking and growling was louder than Misty’s. Funny how you can totally forget even critical reasons for being in a hurry when you crush your little toe…
Well anyway, while wincing in continued pain, I started to the door. Misty was on point and still passionately trying to get at someone or something. I opened the door to let her out and she disappeared into the night.
As she barked and growled in the darkness, I wondered what kind of viscous, evil, life-threatening being might be lurking out there. Soon, my question was answered…was it a mountain lion, a bear, a thief…a serial killer…worse…?
Yes worse…It was an opossum.
According to Misty, nothing is more terrible than a possum. She carried him up on the deck and dropped his seemingly lifeless body at my feet. I took the broom I was holding (clearly a fine choice of weapons) and whacked him in the head repeatedly. I then took him by the tail and dropped him in the garbage can.
Of course…he was gone the next morning….
That's right--he played us. He "played possum."
Until that day, I always thought that the expression "played possum" for faking death or injury was just a fable. That is, I didn't think opossum's actually did that--but this little guy did. And it worked!
But here's the problem. While faking it works to save critters from doom, it actually has the opposite effect on human beings. Oh, it might work for awhile and you might even get sympathy or a free pass with regard to a deadline, etc. Still, in the long run, people distrust and steer clear of others people who play dead to avoid responsibility.
And you know you've done it. You miss an appointment because you forgot and to avoid admitting it, you talk about your sore knee that distracted you. Or, you don't want to go to a social engagement and so that little sniffle you'd normally shrug off becomes a raging case of influenza when you call to cancel.
In contrast, Jesus said, "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one (Matt. 5:37)." His way of living is so simple and yet so profound. It leaves no room for "playing possum."