“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.” — Matthew 10: 14
Many mornings we sit on the lanai drinking coffee and watching the birds and squirrels. There is a little box on the side of a tree about one hundred feet into the woods from where we sit.
I keep shelled corn in the box for the squirrels but they seem intent on accessing the bird feeders. Perhaps it’s the “forbidden fruit syndrome.”
Long ago I determined a squirrel cannot be out smarted when it comes to a bird feeder. One way or the other, they are going to get to that apparently scrumptious bird seed. I decided to devote my life for about two hours to resolve a way to squirrel proof a bird feeder. After that short period of time, I decided it could not be done.
We now have three bird feeders in the woods behind the house. It’s only about twenty feet to the woods from the back of the lanai so they’re very close. I went to Rural King to buy a chain to hang them on so the squirrels could not climb them. Yeah, right, try telling Mr. Squirrel that!
Finally, after the squirrels eating me and the birds out of house and home, I found a roll of wire. “Ah ha,” I thought! “This might work.” Now the feeders are hung on the wire on which they cannot climb either down or up; success at last!
There is, however, a tree trunk about four feet from one of the feeders from which they can jump. There is a problem my little pets seem to be having. When they land on the little house shaped roof made of copper, the house starts swinging on the wire and they cannot maintain their balance. So, down they fall about ten feet and get up embarrassed, look around to see if any other squirrels are watching, and then be on their way to the next challenge.
So, do I finally have my bird feeder squirrel problem solved? I would never assume anything when it comes to a squirrel figuring out how to get to a bird feeder.
There are several descriptive words that would apply when describing “my” squirrels. Most of those words can be applied to a condition a Christian should have when becoming a disciple, believer-follower of Jesus, a missionary (we are all missionaries by default), a pastor or evangelist.
Squirrels are resourceful, determined, persistent, and they have a level of perseverance few humans can ever imagine. The leading scripture, “shake the dust from your feet,” if taken superficially, causes many Christians to give up too easily. We humans sometimes quit too soon and we could take a lesson from the squirrels. They just keep on trying. I know they will be in my back yard tomorrow morning trying to decide how to get to that elusive bird seed.
Persistence is a word that immediately comes to mind. I see them hanging on the side of the tree, eyeing the feeder. I can see them analyzing and evaluating the situation. I can tell by the looks on their faces, they are in deep thought. “Can I jump that far?” “How far am I going to fall if I miss?” “Is it worth it?” The mind of a squirrel is a mysterious thing!
Perhaps, we Christians are not persistent enough. I know I have walked away from a few challenges I should have stayed with a little longer. I’ve heard “plant the seed,” until I’m tired of hearing it. I full well realize we must plant the seed before we can reap a harvest. My fear is we excuse our inactions of reaping the harvest by only planting seeds.
To reap the harvest, there are several questions we may ask the unchurched person. “Do you think this is something you might want to be a part of?” Or, can we get down to the seriousness of the matter? “Do you want to pray right now and ask Jesus to save you?” “Will you come to church on Sunday? I’ll come by and you can ride with me.” There is nothing wrong with trying to get the person to make a decision. The crop, at some time, must be harvested.
Another word that may apply to Mr. Squirrel is “ingenuity.” Look for new ways; methods, techniques, words, to use to reach the lost person. One ministry we are familiar with uses the words, innovative and intentional. Just because, we’ve never done it this way before, doesn’t mean it won’t work.
We could all take lessons from the squirrels. Their determination in crossing the road, accessing the bird feeder or cracking a nut is impressive to say the least. Winning the unchurched person to our Jesus takes all of those characteristics the squirrel possesses. And, the final reward is much greater!
Many churches are now posting the sign over exit doors, “The mission field begins here.” This may be a case in which we read and subconsciously think, “That means someone else but not me.”
Until we begin to regard the Great Commission as “MY responsibility,” the job of evangelizing the world will never be completed. The message is a simple one, Christ Jesus crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected.