Keep Running the Race: A Lesson from the Land Crab

As this year draws toward its finish, I’d like to ask you a question. How has it treated you? It was a tough year worldwide with all the natural disasters, crime, and violence. And perhaps you, like many, faced personal difficulty like unemployment, the loss of a loved one, or severe health issues. 

Or maybe like me, your year was marked more by personal failure. You took a few steps in your spiritual progress, only to discover that your old man wasn’t as dead as you thought he was.

And you failed – yet again. Said things you shouldn’t have. Reacted in a wrong way. Or allowed negative, selfish thoughts to rule your heart. And sometimes it’s those personal failures that can get us down the most.

We have two choices during times of difficulty.

  1. We can either give up thinking, “it’s just too hard.”
  2. Or we can see that difficulties (even those we create) work for our good.

God allows trials as a way of teaching us to overcome all obstacles and keep running the race, as in the following story…

The story of the strange conduct of a land crab.

One of the most useful pioneer evangelists of the Samoan mission was a man named Teava, who, after many years of active service returned to his island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Though very feeble and bent with age, his place at church was never vacant; and he was ever ready with a word of exhortation. And on one occasion he said…

When I laboured on the island of Tutuila I often felt rebuked by the strange conduct of a large species of land-crab. It bores deep into the soil, the holes sometimes extending a considerable distance.

At night this crab loves to make its way to the sea, for the purpose of laving itself in the salt water and drinking it. Now it sometimes happens that, when hurrying through the tall grass and fern, some of its legs become defiled by contact with filth.

So great is the vexation of this crab at its mishap, that it delays its march to the sea in order to wrench off the offending legs! One may sometimes meet a mutilated individual hobbling along without two or three of its legs—a self-inflicted punishment!

In some rare instances it has been known to wrench off all its eight legs to escape defilement. It is then content to drag itself over the ground with considerable difficulty by means of its nippers, until it reaches its hole, where it hides until the legs partially develop themselves again, though not of their original length and beauty. *

The Story of the Land Crab is based on a story from The Biblical Illustrator – in the Public Domain.


We need the same tenacity for overcoming obstacles!

Not to the point that we cut our legs off, or even tear our hair out. No, I’m not suggesting that! But we need to focus on the finish line – and get rid of all that impedes us.

Therefore let’s also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…

Hebrews 12:1 WEB

Trials are tough and discouraging, and often do cause wounds or missing pieces. But it’s important to remember that giving in to discourgement doesn’t change anything. The trials don’t disappear, but remain, thorns in our side, mountains to scale.

But if we allow them to teach us the tenacity of the land crab, they become special hidden blessings in our lives.

Let’s let them teach us to lay aside every weight and sin which so easily ensnares or entangles us.

Because God would rather we reach the finish line lame or blind, than not make it all!

IMAGES: Crab by Free-Photos. | Beach by Free-Photos. | Never give up by geralt. | Pebbles & shell by Brett Schaberg.

Published by Signora Sheila

I am a wife, mom, nonna, blogger, and missionary in Italy. But really, I'm just an ordinary woman on a journey, trying to slow down enough to hear the still small voice of God and live for all that is truly important in this world.

4 thoughts on “Keep Running the Race: A Lesson from the Land Crab

  1. Sheila, Thank you for this. Just today, I had lunch with my daughter, and I told her about two instances I felt guilty about – that I felt I neglected her when she was in middle school (she’s now 43). I remember apologizing to her at the time, but all this time I have felt guilty about it and have beat myself up and called myself a bad mother. She did not remember either time and reassured me that I was a good mom. We beat ourselves up when we should just go to the Father and leave it with Him. I had gone to the Father, but I hadn’t left it with Him. The Lord bless you and keep you dear one. Karen

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    1. So glad this post ministered to your heart, Karen. I think most parents suffer from guilt over child raising – even after our children are grown. Because we’ve all made mistakes and messed up. It’s wonderful that often are children are so understanding. And marvelous that our Lord is always so loving and forgiving!! The Lord bless you too, dear friend!

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  2. As you know, my husband will be facing a liver transplant in 2019. We know it won’t be easy. But we also know where our help comes from, and we will count every joyful blessing along the way as God provides those doses of spirit-strengthening encouragement. You are so right, Sheila: it’s downright silly to lament our circumstances and take our eyes off the goal, to live God’s way. He ALWAYS knows what’s best, ALWAYS comes alongside, ALWAYS provides the strength. (You have my permission to remind me of these statements in the aftermath of surgery! 🙂 )

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    1. No Nancy, that won’t be at all easy. But thankfully, the Lord always does all that you said, and more. Thankfully the Lord IS always. Keep us posted as the time draws nearer so that we can pray along with you. But don’t worry, I doubt I’ll have to remind you in the aftermath. The Holy Spirit will be by your side every second!

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