Wisdom Wednesday: Hoping for a Zoo

Lisa Cherry —  April 13, 2011

Photo courtesy of Wong Mei Teng

By Lisa Cherry

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

I had a problem. We were on our spring break cross-country van trip—two mamas with nine children ranging in age from nine months to sixteen years in a 15 passenger van. We were pressing out two ATF events, two special speaking engagements, a business meeting in Texas, and a three day visit with my sister’s family. By the time it was over we would put almost 1000 miles on the van.

You would think that a 26 year mothering veteran would have known better than to promise her four-year-old a trip to the zoo in the midst of all that. But promise I did.

Every time we would stop at a hotel or gas station, Josiah would ask “Mama, are we almost at the zoo?” I was so determined to make good on my promise at Oklahoma City. But then the temperature bottomed out and the rain moved in.

I thought of bundling us up in my sister’s family’s sweatshirts and taking umbrellas, but at that idea the teens threatened to mutiny. The hair and fashion risk was just too great for them. And so I became a mother desperate for a zoo.

Tara drove as we exited Oklahoma City and I began my internet search. I found that Tyler, Texas, where we were headed, had a little zoo through which they rotated some animals a few times a year. So for twice the cost, we could see a couple of animals. But hey, I was determined to make it sound like a great deal.

We were nearing the Texas border when a sign appeared on the highway: “Exotic Animal Park—World’s Finest—exit 64.” Josiah was napping when I punched Tara. “Hey, do you think we could pull off the road and call this a zoo?”

More signs followed and my hopes soared. Maybe I could still get myself out of my mess.

We pulled off at the exit and all my “assistants” sprang to attention.

“Mom, it will probably be a dump.”
“Mom, you’re not really going to go there, are you?”
“Mom, the sign is pretty broken down.”

I heard all their objections, and agreed. But they did not understand that this was a mothering zoo emergency. I could not defer my little boy’s hope!

We pulled into a gravel parking lot next to several older mobile homes and under a crooked sign that said “Exotic Animals.” It looked like just would you would imagine. Nevertheless my heart raced with excitement. For right there on the edge of the parking lot were four 10’ x10’ cages, each containing a tiger or a lion.

As I turned off the engine, Josiah opened his eyes. He squealed with delight, “Mama, Mama! It’s the zoo!”

“Aww…Josiah had his visit to the zoo, and this Mama’s heart was at peace.

I shushed the other children sternly and pulled my little boy out of the van.

Our words of promise to our loved ones have such power. I remember afresh that day at our “zoo.”

God, help me to be a person of my word. Forgive me when I have hurt others by my hasty and vain promises. Help me, Lord, to keep my commitments to my spouse, my children and my loved ones. God I want to be honest and trustworthy, just as You are honest and trustworthy. Thank you for Your wisdom.  Amen.

Let’s take 30 seconds to meditate on this verse:  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12

Wisdom Wednesday posts are inspired by a verse from the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the posting date.