Just last week I was driving home, my mind turning over the assignments and chores and appointments and meetings and gatherings in the busy days ahead. As I cruised along I glimpsed a fantastic cluster of clouds, sunlight streaming through, which led me to consider heaven, and that life-giving, most precious promise of Christ Jesus: I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
I sighed deeply, asking the Holy Spirit to keep my mind in his perfect peace, rather than keeping company with the cares of life.
And then, a sudden flash of police lights at the intersection ahead.
I checked my driving speed and looked again toward the lights as I slowed to a stop. Several mangled cars were twisted in the middle of the road. I breathed a prayer for the people involved. This accident must have just happened, I remember thinking, since one giant of a man was just now emerging from his smashed vehicle.
As I was studying his face for injury, three policemen appeared in front of me, guns drawn and aimed directly at him.
Time, as they say, stood still. I could see one police officer’s profile clearly, the tension manifesting in a clenched jaw, before he shouted Get down! This hulk of a man stood slowly and raised his hands in surrender, his face smooth and cleanshaven and quite childlike. It is odd what details are considered in trauma: my brain noted his clean collared shirt, a green and white plaid. I thought, What could he have possibly done while dressed so neatly? And then–they must have the wrong suspect.
But I was frozen, mind confused by such frightening events, as my hands remained locked on the steering wheel. I was close enough to see the police officers’ shiny shoes, their hands tight upon their drawn weapons, the sweat glistening on the suspect’s forehead, and the wide eyes and opened mouth of the woman in the car next to me.
My heart thudded as I scrambled to call my husband. The light turned green, but no one dared to move even an inch, uncertain if we should drive away while the weapons were still raised. And then, two additional officers materialized and handcuffed the man who was now face down in a scant pile of gravel and sand that so often accumulates in the middle of paved intersections.
One police officer jogged two cars ahead of me, and began to wave rapidly, circling his hand at the first car in line. Go, Go, Go. Come on, let’s go! he mouthed, urgency framing his face, impatience growing evident in the swiftness of his motions. His other hand remained fastened to his holstered gun.
Yes, I was right there, watching this scene unfold.
Still, I did not know.
Just last week, a squirrel found a way to dismantle our squirrel proof bird feeder, snapping the springs and disappointing not only me, but hundreds of songbirds.
I was gifted some birthday money a few months ago, and took Matthew 6:26 to heart, investing in a feeder, inviting beauty while discarding worry. There are many situations draped over my life, some good, some not so good, some tangled, and others draining nuisances. But I know for certain that all of these these things hold purpose, as God is always working his good plans.
With so many issues simultaneously occurring, I realized that drastic times called for stricter measures. I prayed and asked God for wisdom regarding my time management. I removed a few apps on my phone, and my relief was immediate: palpable. Snippets of time, pieces here and there, actually added up to far more distraction and confusion than I cared to admit. My soul had begun to wither in disturbance, and I realized that I craved simplicity. Removing some apps paved a path towards time to peacefully think, pray, and be fully present in my life.
I am spending more time in stillness, watching the birds. I fill the feeder, and all-day long cardinals and chickadees and woodpeckers and buntings and sparrows and scores of others winged creatures flit to the feeder and eat their fill. I pause as I pass by the window, sometimes observing for five whole minutes, paying attention to their vibrant colors and shapes and cheeps and distinguishing beaks. They are darling, and utterly trust me to fill the feeder up with birdseed. Their songs are my payment.
All was well until a chunky squirrel clung too long to the feeder’s top, swinging wildly, thus snapping the spring which locked the food holes under such weight. My husband taped it up until I could buy a new birdfeeder. But then I awoke the next morning to a squirrel feasting upon the food in a fast and greedy fashion. I was ticked. Squirrels are adorable, but by no means do I intend to purchase birdseed for them.
So I carried the broken feeder into the garage, and for two entire days, until the new feeder arrived, the songbirds were without their normal treasure trove.
I know this is a small problem, but how I missed the sweet sound of their chirpings outside my window as I worked. I could not reason with these tiny creatures, explaining with: Hold on…a new and better feeder is on its way. I promise that I have not forgotten you!
They simply had to wait, and trust, which leads me back to Matthew 6:26. I too, must work to the glory of God, trusting him as I wait. He is God, and he knows exactly what he is doing. The more I trust and obey him, growing in faith and Christlikeness, the more arduous my journey will become. I am learning this clearly through the path called suffering.
Don’t worry, little ones. The squirrel never has the final say. I will feed you.
Satan has come to kill, steal, and destroy. But he also knows that the day is coming in which he will be crushed, destroyed, decimated by the hand of God.
In order to survive, and thrive, we must determinedly clear our heads from the ways of the world. If we fail to do so, we will be yanked into the fray, digesting the loud opinions and voices of others, or even ourselves, where confusion rules the day.
Don’t be fooled. Satan is the father of lies, the deceiver. Every speck of selfishness, envy, hate, discord, and confusion belongs under his pithy dominion. He wants to devour your soul. Turn to God through Christ and hold fast to the truth found in the Bible. It won’t be flashy or fancy or popular, but neither was Jesus. The closer he drew to God in obedience as he headed to Calvary, the slimmer the crowd became. Remember that.
God is God Almighty and we are not. (Isaiah 45:5-7) We have no control over events or the attitudes and actions of others. Our only control is in our personal heart attitudes and responses to everything that unfolds. Bow low before Him and wait.
Just last week, I took inventory of our yard. Come June, it will be one year since we purchased our home. The first time my husband and I perused the property, the yard appeared lush and green, from a distance.
Upon closer inspection, the bright yard was full of bright weeds. Thick weeds, which had choked out the lovely blades of grass. Pretty curb appeal, but not a healthy yard. When my husband contacted a yard company, they told him that the previous owner, who had lived in our home for six years, had chosen a cease fire against the weeds.
It is too bad, he said. The owners before them had kept it up beautifully.
It did not take long for the yard to be overrun.
So we had a choice. Mow the weeds and pretend that all was well or open our wallet and go to war against this contagion, and fight to have a healthy yard.
We are fighting for health.
It is terribly slow, and my daughter and I laughed a month ago, as a portion of our yard looked like it had a rash. Patches of healthy grass scattered here and there, bare patches where weeds had shriveled, and still some stubborn weeds.
Patience, my husband reminded me. This will take time.
I am not laughing now, as the health is multiplying, and a luscious, healthy lawn is growing. The patches are filling in, but guess what?
It will be a lifetime of maintenance, a fight to eliminate deep-rooted weeds as they erupt in our fallen world. Those weeds would choke the life out of our yard if we were ever to sit back, relax, and merely hope for the best.
Just last week I learned why those police officers had taken swift action.
That plaid shirt man, all kind-faced and clean shaven, had murdered someone at a truck stop, less than thirty minutes before crashing at the intersection. A second suspect was still at large.
The policemen knew information that the rest of us did not.
They were impatient and tense and protective for good reason.
Things are not always as they seem, are they?
The new birdfeeder was a bit more expensive but far more sturdy. It is built with a guarantee to last. As I write, the song birds are flitting and feasting, singing as they go.