Once upon a time there was a man who was rarely seen without a book in his hands. He loved all kinds of books. Classics, like The Brothers Karamazov. Epic fantasies like the Lord of the Rings. Books by spiritual giants such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and D.L. Moody.
Then, the goblin prince was born. The man who loved books was charged with becoming the goblin prince’s servant, caring for the prince night and day. For months the servant was unable to read the books he loved.
One day, while the man was scrubbing the prince’s dishes he felt a tug at his pants. The prince had brought his servant a present: a hardback book. Although it was small, brightly colored, and written by an unfamiliar author, the servant was grateful for the chance to read again.
So the servant escorted the goblin prince to the royal play mat, and then began reading Put Me in the Zoo, by Robert Lopshire.
The story would change the servant’s life forever.
Put Me in the Zoo
We do not want you in the zoo.
Out you go!
Out! Out with you.
Why did they put me out this way?
I should be in.
I want to stay.
Just wait and see what I can do.
Look! Now all his spots are blue!
Now look at this! What do you see?
Spots as green as green can be!
Say! You are good!
Do more! Do more!
We wish you would.
I can do more.
Look! This is new.
Blue, orange, green,
and violet, too.
Oh! They would put me in the zoo
if they could see what I can do.
We like all the things you do.
We like your spots, we like you, too.
But with all the things
that you can do,
the circus is
the place for you!
This is where I want to be.
The circus is
the place for me!
Lewis, my goblin prince, I love serving you, reading with you. Your namesake, C.S. Lewis, once told his Goddaughter, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” I’ve always loved fairy tales. But today, I’m finally old enough to read, listen and understand Beginner Books again.
We all have a Zoo we desperately want to get into. For some it’s a career. For others, it’s a relationship, or a church. But just like you with your shapes box, we are square pegs trying to force our way into round holes.
We mistake our failure to fit in for rejection, instead of recognizing it as a steppingstone toward finding our place of acceptance.
I’ve spent a lot of years trying to get into my own Zoos, bending over backwards to show what I can do and why I belong. The sorrow that comes from not being allowed in, the anguish of sometimes feeling flat out rejected, can be paralyzing.
It turns out I was banging on the wall of the Zoo when God was inviting me to walk through the front door of the Circus the whole time.
There’s nothing wrong with the Zoo. Zoos are great. Zoos are safe. But Circuses are wild, dangerous places, filled with strange people and strange things. I belong in the Circus.
Lewis, as you get older I hope you’ll keep Put Me in the Zoo on your bookshelf. As you begin to recognize your gifts and talents, as God molds you into the man he wants you to be, always pray, “God, do I belong in the Zoo, or is the Circus the place for me?”
Have you tried desperately to fit in, to find your place, only to be told you don’t belong?
Yes, we all have flaws and weaknesses. But what if, this time, the problem isn’t you? What if it’s just that you don’t belong in a Zoo? Is the Circus the place for you?
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