I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I just can’t seem to win. It seems we have a continuing wildlife saga in our backyard. I know I have told you about the difficult time I have been having trying to feed the birds in our backyard. You see my friends the birds left when the food ran out. It kinda hurt my feelings. Well, I apologized and went and bought some food and a couple of new feeders and they are slowly coming back! Boy, are they fair weather friends! But that isn’t the only problem.
I also have squirrel issues. With winter coming on they are visiting the back yard, the side yard, and every other part of the yard—frequently. They eat Judy’s flower bulbs, they dig holes everywhere burying nuts for the winter, and then for fun they eat the bird food. That wouldn’t be a big deal but they want to eat all the bird food—every expensive morsel. Now there are a couple of options here. On the one hand we can use some friendly means to dissuade them from visiting—you know, perhaps a 12 gauge shotgun. The other is to embrace them—remember the Bible says “if you enemy is hungry…feed them.”
Now if the truth were known, I think sometimes (like when they eat her tulip bulbs) Judy would lean toward the 12 gauge…I’m not sure if the intent would be to scare them off or make squirrel stew. Somehow, though, that just doesn’t seem like the right option. It’s not that I am not that merciful–it’s just that they are so cotton-picking cute and you have to admire their persistence. So, I was prepared to at least help them coexist with us. And then they ate my bird feeder—literally.
As I said I went to a local store and bought a new finch feeder—the kind that is supposed to discourage anything but a finch from feeding there. Well, the designers hadn’t taken into account these squirrels. In one day, they chewed it up, spit it out and consumed the bird food. I decided it had to be a design flaw so I took it back to the store to see if they would give me a new one—they laughed.
So, why not use the 12 gauge and save the money? Well, first I live in the city limits and they frown on discharging a firearm. But the truth is they are God’s creation and they have those big brown eyes…the ones that make them look so pitiful…you know, hungry and everything. As you know, we’ve been learning to “love thy neighborhood” and I suppose that could include squirrels. We’ve also been learning about how we should “be merciful just like God is merciful.” Do you remember why? “Because He forgives the ungrateful and wicked.” I am certain these squirrels fit both categories.
So, I am working through this. Tracking with Romans 12, I’m going down the “love thy enemy” checklist. Feeding—check! Water—Check! Merciful—check! Forgiving—check! I believe before long the squirrels and I will be best buds. In fact, maybe this is just practice for loving others who, like the squirrels, are a bit difficult. You see, the scripture isn’t talking about squirrels anyway; it is talking about our family, our friends, our neighbors—and yes, our enemies. Let me clue you in—loving them is sometimes a whole lot tougher than loving that cute little squirrel.
But do you know what? We can do it. Remember that verse in the Bible we all love…the one that says we can do anything with God’s help? Well, it’s time we move from memorizing it and begin applying it. With His help we can love and care for the most difficult of those who live around us and impact our lives. And do you know what else? We are never more like Jesus than when we are kind and loving to those who deserve it the least. I know…I know, we think we are the most like Jesus when we don our Sunday best and head to church. The truth is we are most like Jesus when we act like Jesus. And, when we truly act like Jesus, all the people around us take notice. They stop “eating our lunch” and begin wanting what we have…Him. Amazing. So, got squirrels? Just give in and go to the store and buy some corn. They will still eat your bird food but maybe, just maybe, they’ll be so full of corn they will eat less of the bird food. Got some folks tough to love? Apply the Word, invite God into the situation and get ready for some work (on your part) and perhaps a miracle (on His part). Hey, none of us are perfect. We all have our warts and we all have our weak spots. Just remember how God goes to great lengths to show you His love every day. He will never grow weary of loving us. Never has, never will. When you get all worked up over an overeating squirrel or an unkind or difficult neighbor—just take a break and rest in Him. He’s got this.