Wednesday 6 September 2017

Never Smile at a Crocodile.

This is a title of a children’s song (music by Frank Churchill and lyrics by Jack Lawrence) I learned at an early age. You may even know it—it has been used in movies, notably Disney’s Peter Pan, and enjoyed by generations of children. The fun ditty covers the drastic consequences of befriending, or even so much as smiling, at this semi-prehistoric predator. The song is fun, but upon further contemplation, I also found it to be a poignant symbol of Christian life.

Crocodiles are deadly. No matter how much research, attention or care you give a crocodile, it is ruled by primal instinct and can never be domesticated. Even a hand-reared crocodile will eat you if it’s hungry. The fact that you have made it your pet, cared for it and bestowed your love upon it matters not to this creature. They don't care for your life. You are a food source, pure and simple.

A crocodile will stalk its prey. It hides in wait, or drifts slowly in the water to its target meal. It moves with stealth, then attacks in one giant swoop. The speed, agility, and ferocity of a crocodile is often underestimated and unexpected. But death by crocodile is not a fast, painless event. It is slow and measured. A crocodile will take its prey down to the bed of the waterway and roll the prey over and over until it drowns. This is known as a ‘death roll’. The crocodile will then find an underwater crevice, and jam the prey into the spot so it can sit and rot. Only when the meal is tenderised by time and water will the crocodile eat it.

As a writer, this children’s song has inspired my penchant for analogy. My mind conjures up an array of ‘crocodile’ situations, events, and people that, if smiled at or engaged, can lead to a violent death.

As a Christian, I recognise sin as a very prominent crocodile. If we look towards sin, reach out a hand to pat it, or invite it into our existence, it will no doubt take a death grip on us and roll us over and over until we drown.

Like a crocodile, sin often comes at us with stealth—sometimes so slowly we don’t see it until it’s too late. Just as the reptile peeks above the water and pinpoints its next victim, sin targets us quietly. It follows our every move, and when it strikes, it can take us completely by surprise.  

‘How did I fall into that?’ we might ask. Yet, no doubt, the consequences would be far worse if we smiled at it first, or mistook it for something harmless, perhaps something potentially loving. Just like with the crocodile, no form of sin can ever love us.

Camouflage and disguise are the crocodile’s greatest tactics. A crocodile floating in the water looks a lot like a log. I wonder how many meals have been acquired through mistaken identity? I can see how sin can come at us like a dead log. We may see it approaching, thinking it is harmless, benign. But closer inspection will reveal its vile existence.

Psalm 51:3

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. (NIV)

If you have ever been in a crocodile-infested creek at night, you will know how hard these creatures are to spot. In dark conditions they have one major weakness—light. Shine a torch on the water, and yellow crocodile eyes reflect back at you like the brightest of stars. Sin is much the same. If you shine the light of God on it, it can do nothing but be revealed—or go into hiding.

Ephesians 5:13

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (NIV)

The crocodile is at the top of the estuary food chain. Nothing can eat the biggest crocodile. As a protected species here in Australia, the crocodile has a relatively hassle-free existence—unless it overplays its position. Strikes on humans in Australia are taken seriously, and the creatures come under attack when they become too familiar with humanity. Their terrorist-like targeting of communities generally end in their own annihilation. I am grateful that, in our spiritual world, sin has already suffered this same fate.

1 Corinthians 15:57

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (NLT)

I’ve learned a lot in contemplating the spiritual analogies of this children's song. I'd love to hear your thoughts or ideas on the subject.

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Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.


  1. Loved your analogy Rose. I think we can all relate to this truth as we're still horrified about croc attacks, but not so much when sin does its dirty work in our lives. (My earliest monster fear in childhood was that a croc might be hiding under my bed!) Now as a long time Christian, I ask the Lord to help me recognize sin when it rears its ugly head in my life. May I have your permission to use this timely illustration in our radio program in the future?

    1. Hi Rita,
      I would be honoured if you used this. Please do. These are magnificent creatures. I think of how Steve Irwin would gush over them - and they are pretty WOW, but they are also gravely dangerous. Not to be smiled at or entertained in any way. By their very nature they are prone to kill. So much like sin.

  2. Hi Rose, what a suitable analogy. Coincidentally, I was humming this song just a few days ago. I love the lyrics, especially, 'he's imagining how well you'll fit within his skin.' So true of sin too. I remember the beady eyes of a big croc following us at the Cairns zoo, making me shiver even though he was behind his enclosure. Not creatures to be mucked around with.🐊

    1. Its a song that can really stick in your head. I'm humming it now! ;-)
      Did you notice with the crocodile you saw in Cairns that when you look into those beady eyes, there really isn't much of a connection with the creature. I get that feeling with them. And with snakes. They just seem so primal. Like there's not a lot there that connects who we are inside with who they are inside. It's creepy. And I think that is why I would never trust them. Definitely not to be mucked around with.


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