Have you ever anticipated going to a really special party? Sometimes we look forward to our birthday or a party at a friend’s house, because we know how fun the day is going to be. This is a story about a different sort of party that took place a long time ago, which turned out to be a lot more exciting than all of those who were invited thought it would.
Two special guests invited to the party were the Shells. Maybe as I tell you this story, you may be able to guess what kind of creatures they were. They lived on the edge of an emerald green pond in the middle of a tropical paradise. Their pond world was shared with Red Belly and two flying fluffs, the official pond musicians. The Shells weren’t very quick at games but were slow and deliberate in their play. Red Belly wasn’t a track star either, so generally they all stayed away from exercises, unless the exercise was aquatic. Most of the time they lay around the pond and talked about who was going to raid the underwater kitchen first. The Shells lived about 10 feet from the pond and it often took quite a while for them even to make up their mind to crawl to the edge, from which the slide down to the kitchen was just a push away. In the kitchen were water wiskets, which you and I have never tasted, but which were ever so tasty. It was hard to tell whether one should start the day on, wiskets or swim next door to the pantry and try some of the shimbles. Actually, they were both so good, that whichever one you ate first, was as far as you got. We haven’t mentioned the other delicacies: crinkled spangdads, varieties of muffwuffs, or erlick slime balls. The creatures of the pond had a good life, which was made up of eating, good conversation, and peace. That was just the way creatures lived in those days.
The big day of the party finally arrived. Never being in a hurry, the Shells took their time and by the time they arrived, their friends were already digging into the hors d’oeuvres. Old Squishy, the Slime Brothers, Red Belly, and Fur-ball, among others were already busy eating. The Wild Bunch also had shown up, a fact they would just have to put up with. The Shells always tried to keep their distance from the Wild Bunch, who had long arms and played all day long like maniacs and never seemed to tire out. Any thought of winning a game with the Wild Bunch around was quickly forgotten, and our quiet friends felt a little embarrassed at their own methodical pace, which was made obvious to all, by the frenzied play that always surrounded a party where the Wild Bunch lead the ruckus. I think that The Ruckus Brothers would have suited the Wild Bunch as a better name, but the latecomers were too polite to spend time thinking up names to call creatures.
Two weeks earlier, when Swifty had spread the word about the party Friend was hosting, they had learned from the invitation list that every creature was being invited. There had never been a party where everyone was invited at once. Usually Friend had a party for a select few creatures at a time. Snappity snap! Were the Shells ever excited, even in spite of the Wild Bunch being on the invitation list. Whenever Friend planned something, it meant two things: it would be a lot of fun and also a learning experience at the same time. The Shell’s never had been able to figure how Friend managed to teach something through their having so much fun. Anyway, this must be some party he was planning!
Anticipation of waiting for a party is just about as much fun as the parties are themselves. Friend was so fun loving, and he always intertwined some wonderful surprise as a part of his parties, which no one could predict or anticipate. The last surprise had been for the unveiling of Water Works Park. The Shells still remembered their first slide down the Tunnel Funnel. It wound down the side of a ravine so steeply that the breakneck speed had been breath taking, and Mrs. Shell had actually become airborne for a second or two. Mr. Shell smiled when he remembered her splashing into the pool at the bottom and being enveloped in the warm, sun-heated water. That was the first time they had realized they could swim, and swim they had, for hours! If it hadn’t been for that party, they would never have discovered the underwater kitchen and the joy of eating wiskets and shimbles. “What could Friend be doing to top that party?”
Let’s get back to the latecomers crawling up. . . After satisfying themselves with mouthfuls of delicious grasses and herbs, Mr. and Mrs. Shell first went down the greeting line, bowing to other creatures and catching up on the latest news. Mrs. Shell spotted the flying fluffs who were resting between songs. She very kindly told them that their song had always been one of her favorites. That was very polite of Mrs. Shell, for the fluffs only knew one song and played it over and over, constantly. Mr. Shell had once told her privately that it was lucky the stick-legged flyer with the raspy voice hadn’t received the honor of being the pond musician. The fluffs had a single selection, but, at least, they sang it well. The fluffs beamed at Mrs. Shell’s compliment and rewarded everyone by breaking out into another round of the song. Mrs. Shell figured that one compliment was enough and hummed politely along.
That strange creature that no one could figure out was in the line, and, as usual, he was claiming to be related to everyone. The fluffs kept insisting he was no relative of theirs, although rumors had it that he was a distant cousin. He had smooth, closely cropped hair, and a funny waddle that made Mr. Shell feel coordinated. They overheard him say to a web footed fluff, “Young creature, it appears that we may be cousins.” Before Webfoot could disagree, off he went to begin making claims on some other creature who happened to be nearby. It was peculiar, but he did kind of look like he was related to everyone. He just had one of those bodies. After the greeting line, it was on to the food again and then, everyone sat down, full and content, waiting for the announcement. Friend stood up and looked over the assembly of creatures. “Today is a special day for each one of you,” he began. His voice was rich and deep, and all the creatures sensed his love for them when he spoke. “I have been given an assignment which involves every one of you. This is the day when you will be named, and from this time forward, you and your children will be known by that name.”
Now the Shells had been listening and waiting for the special surprise of the day, and to be truthful, they were a little disappointed. They already had a name, the Shells. Well, it wasn’t really a name. No one really knew what they were in those days, so creatures were called by some feature that distinguished them from the others. The other creatures had always called them Shells and it had always been good enough of a name to get along with. This wasn’t going to be like the Water Works Park surprise or even the Tuck-in-your-shell-contest. Even though they were a little disappointed, they still listened and for some reason this whole naming idea was beginning to get a little interesting. It kind of felt like they were witness to some special event, even though it was just to get a name. So they decided to stay, watch and listen. All of the other creatures stayed too.
Friend started by dividing all the animals up into groups. The Shells were moved together with some others who had cool skin. Secretly, they were happy, for that kept them separate from that hot-blooded Wild Bunch. As it turned out, it was that group, which Friend started naming first. He named the entire group, the Mammals. The first name went to the Wild Bunch. I think Friend wanted them to get named quickly so that they could be off playing a wild game of tree tag. “They are to be called Monkeys from hereafter,” he said. The Shells were very happy with that name, for that’s exactly what they looked like, monkeys! The name fit them well. Big Mane was called a Lion. Their friend, Fur-ball, was called a raccoon, and Swifty was called a Cheetah. The strange looking creature whom everyone denied being related to was call a Duckbilled Platypus and did that name ever fit! There were hundreds in each group and every name was given thoughtfully, one at a time. What became quickly apparent was that the names given seemed to fit each animal perfectly. After the mammal group was completed, Friend studied and began naming a group he called birds. The flying fluffs were in this group and when it was their turn, they were called Cerulean Warblers. It was a mouthful of a name, but the shells never remembered anymore than the last name anyway. Stick-legged Flyer was called a Great Blue Heron. What a regal name for someone with a raspy voice, but the name still somehow fit. Red Belly was grouped with animals called amphibians, and he was named a Salamander. The slime brothers were grouped with animals called gastropod mollusks and were called Slugs. That name was a mouthful for a family name but it still somehow fit. Old Squishy, who wasn’t really old but just wrinkly, was a caterpillar. Squishy caused quite a stir because shortly after being named he turned into a winged creature and had to be named again as a butterfly. Friend still left him in his same group called insects.
The naming went on and on for a very long time, but no one was at all bored. They waited with excitement as each new name was given. Food was plentiful, and conversation was not lacking, especially since everyone who had been named was practicing saying their new name, so that introductions could be made without a stammer. You may wonder what was so much fun about getting a name and telling everyone what kind of creature you were. Well, try looking at yourself as you are, but never really knowing who or what you were, which would be very confusing and then someone explained in a single word who and what you were. Don’t you think you would be excited? The Shells were so captivated with the entire spectacle that they quite missed when Friend called their group, the Reptiles. Friend had named a few creatures, snakes, lizards, and some others in their group, when it finally became their turn. Their attention did perk up though, when he turned to them and said. “You are going to be called hereafter, Sea Turtles, and just like that, they knew at last, who they were. The Shells, OOPS! I mean the Sea Turtles, joined in the happy clamor of name practicing and missed at least 500 namings because they were so delighted with their new name and knowing who they were.
Well, that’s what happened on the day all of the animals got their names. I probably should tell you about one more name which was revealed that day to the animals, and that was the name of Friend.
In the evening of the last day of naming, when all the names had been given, God walked into the garden. God addressed Friend in the garden so all of the animals could hear. “Friend, I call you Man and you have been created in my own image. Then God said, “Behold, I have” given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, herein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat.” Genesis 1:29,30 (KJV) The animals knew that Man was to be ruler over the whole earth, including them, and they were happy. They trusted him, for he was their friend.
That evening when the Sea Turtles went home, they were happy that Man had named them. They were grateful to God for creating them and they loved him in return. They also loved Man and felt secure that they were under his rule. “This is going to be a good life”, said Mrs. Turtle. And so it was, for some time to come.
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of
the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam
called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:19,20 (KJV)
The Bible tells us that God asked Adam to name all of the animals. One of the first things your parents did when you were born was to give you names. It is part of God’s way of saying to your parents, “I want you to take special care of these little ones I have left in your care.” In the same way, God would like us to take special care of His animals He has left in our care. They are still His, but we are His stewards and in charge of protecting them. Receiving a name has special significance with God. When we go to live with Him, he is going to give each one of us a special name, which only He and you who receive it will know. So when He calls you by name, you will know that he is talking to you, only. If you want to read where God tells this to us in the Bible it is in Revelation 2:17. Aren’t you looking forward to seeing God and finding out what name he is going to give you? I can guarantee that since it is God that is giving it, the name will fit you perfectly.