Out of town guests had arrived the night before requesting that we make a run down to Key West the next day. The coolers were packed with picnic makings and ice. Everyone loaded into the van and soon the road began its monotonous hop from one tiny island to the next as we made our way into the famous Florida Keys.
A particularly lovely island with a nice park right beside the road attracted the notice of the teens in the visiting family. We were nowhere near Key West but they just had to try the beautiful clear blue waters stretching toward the Atlantic horizon. They were enjoying an invigorating romp in the warm shallows when a sudden shout of alarm rang out. And no, it wasn’t a shark or some other toothy threat from the deep. One of the teens had picked up a living sponge from the bottom and had wrung the water from it thinking to take it home with her as a souvenir. What she didn’t realize, the seemingly innocent sponge was equipped with a powerful defense mechanism. As she had squeezed it, the sponge had exuded a powerful toxin designed to ward off potential predators.
The pain was excruciating. Her hands swelled alarmingly. Attempts were made to wash the toxin from her skin. But only time blunted the effects of the clever defense mounted by the innocent looking sponge.
Life has any number of similar traps waiting for the unwary willing to pick up some apparently innocuous and attractive vice. In the case of the teen and the attack-sponge, a few hours of pain and swelling plus a lot of Benadryl and Tylenol were the only apparent consequences to her naïve actions. But some of life’s traps are much less forgiving. There are things out there that if you pick them up, you simply cannot put them down. They look great but they bite.
Be careful what you pick up this summer.
Richard Orrell, Pastor