Keep Running the Race: Lessons from the Land Crab

In looking back over the past year and a half, I’d like to ask you a question. How has it treated you? It was tough worldwide with all the sickness, natural disasters, crime, and violence. And perhaps you, like many, faced great difficulty like unemployment, the loss of a loved one, or severe health issues. 

Or maybe 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 – once 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.

Image from Pixabay

Two choices during difficult times.

  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 strange conduct of the land crab

With a lesson on perseverance.

One of the most useful pioneer evangelists of a certain Samoan mission was a man named Teava, who, after many years of active service returned to his home 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.

(Adaptation of a story from The Biblical Illustrator, in the Public Domain.)

We need that kind of tenacity!

The land crab was determined to reach his goal, and willing to remove anything he saw as an impediment. Even his own legs, even though they were not what was impeding him! All he needed was to continue on to the sea, letting it wash all the impeding sand away.

Yet we too need such tenacity in removing obstacles. Not to the point of cutting our legs off, or even tearing out our hair. I’m not suggesting that! But we need to focus on the finish line – and get rid of anything that impedes us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Overcoming trials and obstacles

Many of our obstacles come in the form of trials. They’re tough and going through them can even cause wounds or missing pieces.

But it’s important to keep going anyway. Giving in to discourgement or despair doesn’t change a thing – except our ability to fight and overcome. The trials don’t disappear – they remain, thorns in our side or mountains to scale.

But if allow him to, God can use the trials to teach us the tenacity of the land crab. And the trials can become special hidden blessings in our lives.

They can teach us to lay aside every weight or entangling sin. They can teach us to keep going no matter how hard the going gets. They can help us see that God is with us, ready to help us reach the finish line. Even if we do get wounded or battered along the way

So lay aside every weight and keep going. Because God would rather we reach the finish line bruised and beaten, if necessary, than to never make it all!

Keep going no matter how hard the going gets! For God would rather we reach the finish line wounded and battered (if necessary) than to never make it at all!

Images: Man running by Joshua Earle. Crab from Pixabay. Clam by Schäferle.

6 thoughts on “Keep Running the Race: Lessons from the Land Crab

  1. Jesus did say that if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. I think he’s saying something like you are pointing out. Yes, cast off what hinders. Keep your eyes fixed on the goal. Don’t give up. This year has been full of reminders.


    1. Yes Linda, this year has brought a lot of reminders! Obviously, Jesus doesn’t want us to tear off limbs, etc. like that crab. But we must shed hindrances – and never, ever give up!!


  2. 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


    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!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. 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! 🙂 )


    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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