“The Problem Was Just Squirrels?!…”

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“Well, I kinda wish it was some sort of computer emissions problem or … or  just something a little more technical than squirrels.  I mean if you’re going to pay three hundred -fifty dollars to get your car fixed, you don’t want to say that squirrels ate through the wiring underneath it. It just doesn’t seem right somehow.”

That’s what my husband said the day the technician diagnosed the SUV. We took it to the Honda  Service Center because it would randomly lose it’s umph when pulling out into traffic. Then once it was out in the highway it would do three bunny hops and then proceed.  (It was dangerous, but still comical.) Some sort of system for navigating icy roads was kicking in when roads were clear and without any prompting. And it was the squirrels in our driveway.

Living in rural Madison County comes with its perks (crickets chirping at night, star visibility, legal fireworks displays, traffic free roads and giant oaks in the yard). Until last week we loved watching the squirrels.  The giant oaks provide their winter’s store and their haven for sleep and play. But now when we see them we want our acorns back! How dare those avaricious little floofy-tailed gluttons eat the wiring on the car that feeds them, never even stopping to think about how that’s the very automobile that brought home the insect poison to flush that infestation out of the oak in the front yard; the very oak that dropped the gajillion acorns on the driveway for their bountiful harvest last fall! Did they know that was the very car that brings home fertilizers for their play land and sometimes even brings home the little saplings that grow into those bushes beneath which they scamper in the hot summertime? And now that we replaced all that wiring, I bet they are inviting all their friends to the new and improved food bar down under.

While those squirrels have definitely worn out their welcome under the oaks at our address, they’re obviously not feeling the least bit guilty. They may have a little squirrel indigestion from eating rubber, but their discomfort with eating the “forbidden fruit” ends right there. They have no capacity to feel sorrow or appreciation or any other emotion. They are like the birds of the air which “do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them” (Mt. 6:26).

But we are not squirrels. We are quite capable of ascertaining the source of every blessing. We are without excuse if we do not recognize His existence and worship Him as the Creator (Romans 1:19-21). Yet how often do we give ourselves permission to use the very blessings of His hand as obstacles to our accomplishment of His purposes? Parents sometimes allow the health or talents of their children to tempt them to miss worship services in deference to ballgames, recitals or various exhibitions. Breadwinners sometimes allow the blessings of employment to overtake their ambitions and take their focus from spiritual concerns. People who have gained the blessing of honor among peers sometimes let pride in human achievements become the catalyst for their leaving the Lord. Some, like the rich fool in Luke 12, let material riches consume their passions, leaving no room to grow rich toward God. In the end they won’t be able to say they were overtaken by some great tragedy like the trials of Job.  They will not have lost their moorings at the feet of some persuasive false teacher. They will have destroyed themselves, not because bad things occurred in their lives, but because they misused the good things; the blessings. They ate through their own spiritual wiring.

There is a prayer I have learned to pray that helps me keep check on the way I’m using His blessings. It goes something like this:

“Lord, I am so thankful for the material blessings which You daily shower on me. I really do bask in physical blessings. Lord, help me to use these blessings to bring glory to your name. But Lord, if I ever let these blessings get in my way of serving You, just take them from me, because I want to go to heaven.”

When I am praying that prayer, I have a really hard time letting my children’s activities keep me from faithful worship. It’s hard to let my passion for hobbies outgrow my passion for His work. I think twice before I let that vacation travel keep me from assembling with His people. It’s easier to see the importance of faithful stewardship. It’s just easier to maintain the spiritual wiring.

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