“Comparing different slug groups arises quickly the question, how those shell-less snails could survive, without the protection of a shell.”
“The external protection of a slug mainly happens by its mucus or slime” (reference).
I’ve been telling God lately that being obedient to Him is making me feel like a snail without a shell. A shell-less snail is called a slug, so I guess I feel like a slug. I’ve been on my slug-journey for about four years now. My self-esteem used to be connected to a lot of things (beauty, education, accomplishments, money, family, etc.), but God has slowly cut everything until all I have left is Him.
This doesn’t mean He has actually taken everything from me, but He has taken my dependency on everything. I can survive if I lose everything, but I cannot survive if I lose God. Without God there is absolute nothingness – no beauty, no education, no accomplishments, no money, no family, no anything! Without God I wouldn’t be typing this in my laptop at the coffee house, and you wouldn’t be reading this from your computer at work or home. We wouldn’t exist.
If we live the slug-life by putting God first, we gain everything in the process (Matthew 6:33). But, putting God first is not easy. Putting God first means allowing God to take our snail shells (our sinful flesh and imperfect humanity) off. Without our snail shells we are vulnerable and exposed to the world, which is exactly what God wants. It is only when our snail shells are off that Jesus’ light that He planted in each of us can shine in this dark world (John 8:12 NIV).
But what does the slug life look like? You can see it when you examine Jesus’ life.
If you read Isaiah’s foreshadowing of Jesus, you get an image of a very ordinary man (Isaiah 53:2-5). Jesus was God in the flesh, yet the scriptures describe Him in very humble terms: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (2b-3). This was Jesus’ humanity. Not so very pretty (I hate saying that, but it is a biblical fact).
However, if you read Daniel’s description of Jesus, you get an entirely different image (Daniel 10:4-610). This description of Jesus boast a super-natural and awe-inspiring image: “His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude” (6). This is an image of the Son of God, the King of the Jews! When Daniel saw this Jesus, he said, “I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless” (8).
Jesus took off His snail shell and humbled Himself to all the world. He allowed us to mock Him, persecute Him and kill Him. At any moment He could put on His snail shell ( His sinless flesh and perfect humanity), but He didn’t. Why Did Jesus allow Himself to be despised and not worshiped? God had a plan: “Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many ‘righteous ones,’ as he himself carries the burden of their sins” (Isaiah 53:11). Jesus humbled Himself so that we may gain righteousness (right-standing with God) through His sacrifice for our sins.
Okay, so what does that mean for you and me? It means this: If Jesus took off His snail shell which was perfect, why do we have such a hard time taking ours off which is flawed by sin? Instead of humbling ourselves to this world, we pump-up our snail shells. We decorate our shells with degrees, clothes, cars, houses, achievements, beauty and pride. We lug around our bulging shells and knock over anyone in our way. How can we serve and love others if we are too busy bowling them over with our pride?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these things. But when we base our self-esteem on things of this world, we will be severely disappointed in the end. We can only find our self-esteem in the fact that we are created by the Most High, and He loves us and has great plans for us. Once we fully understand that privilege, it won’t be so difficult to take off our snail shells and humble ourselves.
But . . .
You say, People constantly hurt me, and I need to defend myself!
God says, I was oppressed and afflicted, yet I did not defend myself.
You say, People look down on me; they think I am nothing!
God says, I was despised and rejected; people hid their faces from me.
You say, People accuse me of wrongs that I did not do!
God says, I was oppressed and judged, though, I never sinned (Isaiah 53).
How do we willingly humble ourselves to a world that will hurt us? If we take off our snail shells and become slugs, we’ll be surrounded by a bunch of tough snails. Mostly everyone else is wearing their shells, and we’re going to get bumped on and rolled over. How do we protect ourselves?
The answer is in the slime! The Holy Spirit is often symbolized as oil. King David was anointed with oil to represent that the Holy Spirit would be flowing through him. If we take our snail shells off and humbled ourselves, we will be protected by an oily slime — the Holy Spirit!
Just imagine that when you are allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete control of your life, you’re allowing your slug to be smothered with glistening slime. This slime will help whenever the other snail shells hit you. They’ll try to take you out, but their efforts will just slide right off (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
On the other hand, when you come into contact with other slugs, you’ll have a holy slime swap! Their Holy Spirit will mix with your Holy Spirit, and your understanding of how wonderful God is will deepen. Our points of view are so limited, and that is why it is so important we surround ourselves with other Spirit-led people. If we can see God through the eyes of many righteous, how awesome would our image of God be? But you got to take off your shell!
You say: I’m a slug, God!
God says: I chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; I chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV).
Tell the world that you are proud to be a slug, and God will shine through you. Take off your snail shells, and the Holy Spirit will protect you.