|Volume 21 Number 4 April 2019||
The Bird and the Squirrel
Every Monday through Friday, twice a day, almost without fail, my youngest son and I make the short trek of about five miles from our house to his school and then back again. Each day, we see the same businesses and even some of the same vehicles as they travel with the same regularity the path that we do. One landmark that we pass is a rather large cemetery in which there are several large trees. Unless there are groundskeepers about or funeral arrangements being made, we usually see an array of animals moving amongst these trees gathering what we imagine is a hardy breakfast.
Most abundant are the squirrels and a host of birds, taking advantage of the well-groomed garden-like atmosphere of the cemetery. This morning, however, we had the chance, while we sat on the street in front of this place waiting for traffic to clear, to witness and unusual phenomenon. A squirrel, minding his own business and seemingly bent on gathering his day’s ration of squirrelly food, found himself under the claws of a bird of prey, who seemingly had a different, meaty breakfast in mind. The bird swooped, grabbed, rolled, twisted, flew off, dove once more, grabbed, missed, twisted, flew off, only to dive over and over in an attempt to make the squirrel its meal.
There was one major problem in this bird’s plan that was readily perceptible to my son and me but obviously not to the bird. The squirrel was about the same size if not bigger than the bird. There was just no way that this bird, with its diminutive size, was ever going to get that squirrel off the ground, no matter how hungry it was or how big it perceived itself.
Ever find yourself in a position like this bird? Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew and ended up paying the price? Most of us have. It is great to think big and shoot for the stars, especially when it comes to spiritual matters when we have given it all over to God to do the impossible. Yet, we must understand that God will work within the natural order of things, which means He will take his time, often bringing the triumphs and victories to us slowly, one bite at a time. He made a king out of the lowly shepherd boy David, but it took years, even after his anointing, through many odd and twisted paths.
Many times, we, like Abraham, who decided to seek a “son of promise” through the handmaiden Hagar, run ahead of God and bite off more than for which we bargained. That never ends well and almost always brings sorrow and mourning. Today, let God lead you, and be patient enough to walk His timeline. He will show you the way.
Your path is dark. Your hope is almost gone. You look ahead and see only blackness. You struggle with making the right choices. You consider giving up. It’s not easy. Is this all you have to which to look forward? Is the life of a Christian a bleak, dark walk through a world of despair, never knowing the right way to go?
“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21). In this text, Moses was not the one who chose when it was time for Israel to depart from Egypt. When he was a young man, Moses believed he would be the deliverer of Israel, but God disagreed about the timing. Moses thought God would deliver Israel quickly, but He did not. God chose His time for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
When God led Israel out of Egypt, the Israelites could not go any direction they desired. Moses didn’t sit down with a map and plot a course. Israel did not vote on an acceptable route and then travel down it. Instead, God presented a pillar of clouds in the sky by day and a pillar of fire by night. Moses and Israel moved by following God’s manifestation of His presence.
Jeshua, the High Priest in Nehemiah’s day, declared to the people concerning God’s actions, “You showed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his servants, And against all the people of his land. For You knew that they acted proudly against them. So You made a name for Yourself, as it is this day… Moreover, You led them by day with a cloudy pillar, And by night with a pillar of fire, To give them light on the road Which they should travel” (Nehemiah 9:10, 12).
Centuries after Israel came out of Egypt, Solomon encouraged his son with these words: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
Jeremiah cried out to the Lord and declared, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps. O LORD, correct me, but with justice; Not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, And on the families who do not call on Your name; For they have eaten up Jacob, Devoured him and consumed him, And made his dwelling place desolate” (Jeremiah 10:23-25).
All these passages teach a single and clear lesson from the Old Testament that is still true today. We should not rely upon our own wisdom to determine our paths. If you are a faithful Christian, are you one who seeks God’s chosen path for you?
We will not determine God’s chosen path for us by voting on a path. We will not resolve the chosen path by reading man’s wisdom. We will not determine the right path for our feet when we select the most natural path in life. Israel’s path led them to the Red Sea and a guaranteed defeat at the hand of Pharaoh’s armies. When you see God’s chosen path for you, and you realize that it means a sure defeat for you, will you turn back, will you give up? Let us continue, trusting in the Lord with all our heart and never leaning on our own understanding. “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).