Anyone entering our family service last night had good cause to feel a little bit bemused. A plastic iguana had pride of place at the front; we were singing songs about it and doing a quiz about it as well. Had we really lost the plot?!

Well, it’s true that we did learn some facts about iguanas last night, such as their place of origin (Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean), their appearance (spiky scales on their back and three eyes), their diet (herbivores living on leafy vegetables), and their life span (the longest known living iguana was 69 years old!) But in actual fact, the lessons Igor had to teach us were far more than enhancing our knowledge of reptiles!

Just as Igor was originally ‘not from round ‘ere’, so we too live in the world but are not of it (see John 17:17-18). When we go on holiday, even within England, different accents and words (such as the many different words for a breadcake) can confuse us and cause misunderstanding. The world was created perfect and we all long for the perfection of Eden, but sin has marred God’s creation and we now find ourselves living as ‘foreigners and exiles’ (1 Pet 2:11) or as ‘foreigners and strangers’ (Hebrews 11:13). We cannot ever be fully happy or know total fulfilment on earth, for we are still ‘longing for a better country—a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16).

Reptiles often use camouflage to disguise themselves and we too, if we are not careful, can want to blend in with our environments so well that we become indistinguishable from the world. The antitode to this is to let God transform our minds (Rom 12:2) and to put off the old self and put on the new (see Eph 4:17-24). There was some excuse for living as the world did before we knew Christ (see Eph 2:1-6), but now His life in us means we are called to be different, to stand out, to shine His light in the darkness. Peer pressure and a desire to conform can often make us ‘blend in’ with our society and culture, but since this world is not our home, we shouldn’t make ourselves cosy in it! (see 1 Pet 2:11-12, The Message). We need to keep our eyes fixed on what is really important and not be led astray by the visible (see 2 Cor 4:18).

Finally, Igor teaches us about adventure. He may only be a plastic iguana, but he’s been on holiday to different places and gets to see all kinds of different things. Most of us long for adventure to break the dull monotony of everyday life, but perhaps we need to define what we really mean by adventure. Is it the dare-devil exploits we see in films like ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’, where Tom Cruise’s character climbs the tallest skyscraper in the world with only a pair of electrified adhesive gloves?

Or does it perhaps look more like the lives of the Fredericksens in the film ‘Up’? (where Carl is surprised to learn that his wife did not consider their lives to be lacking in adventure, even though they did not achieve their dream to visit Paradise Falls in her lifetime.) Adventures in God involve living by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) There can be great excitement and miraculous interventions to witness, but for every parting of the Red Sea and healing of Jesus, there are periods of silent waiting and doubting (think of how long Abraham had to wait for the birth of his son or Joseph had to wait in prison.) In fact, if you had asked the disciples about their great adventures with Jesus on Good Friday, it’s doubtful they would have had any hope of adventure left. But the Resurrection proves that you can never rule out what God will do!

God has adventures for us all: as individuals and as a church. They may not look like the adventures we want to have. God often works in ways that are mysterious to us and rarely does things the way we expect Him to! But we are called to live by faith and not by sight and that life of faith is the biggest adventure you could ever hope to have, bigger than any adventure Igor has yet experienced.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:22-24)

Igor the iguana is, therefore, a parable, a metaphor, a spur to each one of us to keep our eyes fixed on our eternal goal, to live life on earth secure in the knowledge that we are citizens of heaven and to walk by faith into all the adventures God has for us.