Monday, June 23, 2008

Truths from fuzzy-tailed friends

(I am going to try to NOT share many of my writing from my "past life," but there are a few things I want to either redo or simply share in their raw form. Staying with the animal theme here, I had to share this one! Hope that's OK! It's from 2005, if that matters.)

Squirrels are funny creatures.

Seriously, they are.

Some folks think squirrels are just oversized rats
with big, fluffy tails. I simply give them a bit more
credit than that even though my computer’s dictionary
defines them as “arboreal bushy-tailed rodents.” So I
guess that means they are first-cousins to a rat aka
“long-tailed rodent.”

As a child, I was fascinated with them. So much so
that my grandfather, George Hughes, would take
afternoons off from selling insurance and take me to
watch them play in the trees at the city park.

Not long after our ritual began, Papaw nicknamed me
after the furry animals. No one has called me that
since his death, but I often think of him as I watch
one scamper across my back yard looking for pecans.

Of course, I don’t have such warm feelings about the
squirrel (or more than one fuzzy-tailed monster) that
continuously jumps from tree to roof and sprints along
the top of my house above where I’m trying to sleep
late on the Saturday mornings I can.

It seems a friend of mine has had a similar
fascination with the furry ones. Or so she told me the
other night as she was looking through an old journal
she found at her house. It seems that while in
college, she was asked to give a devotional for the
Wesley Foundation. Her talk was inspired, apparently,
by a stint watching a squirrel play in her backyard.

From this observation, she gleaned three squirrel
facts that can aptly be applied to our lives as human

The first one? Sometimes you just have to jump.

While watching the squirrel stand on one limb and look
longingly at the branch of a nearby tree, she asked
herself what the squirrel might be thinking. He could
be, she penned, thinking that the branch was simply
too far away and he couldn’t possibly jump that far.
Or what if he jumped and missed? The failure could be
fairly costly to the little fella.

Perhaps, she surmised, that the squirrel would
determine in his little squirrel brain that the risk
was far too great and wouldn’t jump at all. Instead,
he would remain content in the safe confines of the
tree that he knew would hold him.

The second truth of sorts determined from the squirrel
watching was discovered after the animal actually
jumped. “Hang in there!” was the outcome. Leaping from
the safety of the branch that held him, the squirrel
found himself swaying toward the sky and toward the
ground on a much smaller and flexible limb. It would
bend a lot but not break.

From that observation, an object lessons was formed.
God never said doing his work would be easy, she
wrote. Many times taking that first leap and doing
what God calls us to do is the hardest. We think the
limb is going to break and we will fall. Things may
not go the way we think they should but we have got to
hold onto his words and his promises, know he is in
control and we can do it with his help.

How about the third point?

It seems that once the squirrel got his bearings and
realized the limb was gonna hold, he decided to keep
climbing toward the original destination. He kept
climbing higher and higher. We, too, should keep going
higher because there is always room to grow closer to
God, my friend concluded. What is God calling you to
do today?

After hearing this devotional read again five years
later, I felt very uplifted and encouraged. And I’m
certain I will treat squirrels with a bit higher
regard now.

Even those evil ones that love to stomp across my roof.

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