By Leonard Raker
Could an ugly old Catfish have an Easter message for us? The answer is “yes” if it happens to be the Sail Cat. Ugly as it may be, the story is ever so beautiful.
Like all of our thoughts, reality gets lost as we overlook the truth of the God of Easter. As you begin to clean the fish in preparation for dinner, you begin to find signs of a heavenly message. That message fully appears when you finish the enjoyment of your dinner. There is something so very different to that backbone. There before you is the story of the Crucifixion, plain as the nose on your face.
Looking upon the top of that bone, plain as day, you notice the stripes that Jesus received. As you partially turn the bone, there lies a puncture; the spear in the side while on the cross. Completing the turn you see the shape of the Cross on which Jesus died, and if you want to get a “wow” moment, just shake the bone and you will hear the rattle of the dice thrown for His Robe. Yes, you can see the story and hear it completed before you get up from the table.
And the truth of this story? We really don’t like to look at the truth before our very eyes. That truth? We walk in the creation of the God that surrounds us in just about everything we find in this old world of ours. Try it for a while. I am sure you will be amazed!
About the writer…
Leonard Raker is Curator at the Ocean Lakes Nature Center Discovery Lab located inside the Myrtle Beach campground on Lovestone Drive. The Raker family has had a place at Ocean Lakes Family Campground for years. Leonard has been collecting shells, fossils and facts since he was 9 years old.
As his collection grew, the Raker family realized there was enough to create a learning center - a place to teach people about marine life. The retired minister approached the Jackson family and the management of Ocean Lakes with the willingness to donate his collection and his time if they could dedicate a place. In the mid 90’s, Ocean Lakes Nature Center became a reality. Today it contains more than 10,000 shells and fossils in displays that Leonard personally built. More than 14,000 guests tour the Discovery Lab every year. It has been reviewed by Museum Specialists from the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History on several occasions. It contains displays about shells, fossils, as well as area and campground history. Many students have started their science projects for school armed with the information Leonard has shared.
At age 79, Leonard continues his ministry through this educational outlet. Not only does he minister about God’s great earth, he mentors everyone about how to be good stewards. And he practices what he preaches! Two thirds of the displays in the Nature Center are built from recycled materials that Leonard has collected from various construction projects in the campground. Of course, now and then he does require a trip to the hardware store. But even Ocean Lakes’ teammates marvel at his dedication to make the most of what you have. While he was building one of the “new” displays with used materials, teammates commented to him that he didn’t ask for any nails. Leonard replied, “I didn’t need to, I straightened what I had.”