Take a good look at that cute squirrel. Yesterday while enjoying quiet moments, I glanced over to my neighbor’s just budding tree which stands next to her second-floor patio. In plain sight sat that “cute” squirrel (or a close relative) perched on a branch. A birdfeeder sits at the edge of the patio and during these early days of spring, birds are plentiful. We love watching the chickadees and finches darting to our own feeder just off our dining room window.
But yesterday there was all out war in the neighborhood. Birds swooped toward the feeder and, as quick as lightning, Enemy Squirrel would leap from his perch toward them. He knew no fear, jumping to and from branches that seemed too fragile to bear his weight. This went on for over fifteen minutes as my temper rose at the antics—no, that’s too mild a term—at the battle plan of the squirrel.
But, you may ask, was the squirrel merely defending his own source of food and his action thereby a natural example of survival of the fittest? Your attitude could be admired if our neighbor had not positioned the feeder in such a way to prevent such intrusion. There was no possible way for Mr. Squirrel—I’ve temporarily awarded him grace by upgrading him from Enemy Squirrel—to reach the birdseed. He was merely enacting his predatory instincts. With seeming glee.
You might think that current stay-at-home, be-masked-and-gloved orders have affected my mind to a dangerous degree (and perhaps they have!), but as the squirrel vs. bird scenario played out, I thought of another set of circumstances. I am one of the birds and the squirrel is Enemy Covid-19. (Or the “other” enemy? That one called the “prince of the power of the air”?) I dart each morning to the feeder of God’s Word. I quiet my spirit in prayer. I talk with my Good Shepherd about sheep both near and far, the ones I love and the nameless ones who enter my mind and heart. I entrust them into his care.
Within moments of being in that safe and quiet place, I sense the relentless attack of my own squirrel. Mine is variously named fear, worry, discouragement, impatience, depression. Food and drink from the Spirit seem to have been snatched away. Anger edges in where peace lived just moments before.
As the day wore on, I occasionally glanced toward that tree. I’m not sure where the squirrel went, but the birds had peacefully resumed darting consistently toward the feeder. They know their survival depends on a steady diet. Enemies abound but built into birds’ tiny bodies is this enemy-evading instinct to feed and thrive.
What’s the name of your squirrel? When I put a name to the squirrel, even the one on the nearby tree, his power seems diminished as I compare him to the only One who offers spiritual, life giving food. The squirrel is just a squirrel.
The Father’s feeder is full: I am the bread of life…feed on me…dwell in me…think on these things…peace I leave you, my peace I give to you…no one can snatch you out of my hand…don’t let your heart be troubled…love one another… By feeding I not only exist to live another day. Like the birds, I live to freely fly and sing to others of the Father’s love and care.
Don’t let a squirrel steal your peace.