Scrambling in the wooded part of my yard, I watched them. Dozens of squirrels all moving about like they couldn’t make up their mind about what to do, how fast to go, or even where to go. Busily they dug in the ground, scurried up trees, and chased each other. Except for one.
As I watched a few seconds longer though, I realized he wasn’t a sad case at all. The squirrel sat motionless on a short 12 inch (estimated) limb protruding from the side of the tree.
It appears he deliberately put himself there. We watched each other. I quietly reached for my camera and snapped a couple pictures. He stayed calm until the continued clicking sounds of the camera made him more aware of my presence. At that moment, he darted around the corner of the tree and took off, vacating his solitary spot.
As the squirrel made his departure I couldn’t help but think about his solitary place of rest. His limb was a lot like a lesson I learned many years ago. I recalled the day so clearly…on my front porch, almost at the same spot as the squirrel on the limb.
A contrary, argumentative attitude prompted me to firmly state, “You’re grounded,” to my fifteen-year-old daughter.
She glared at me and her mouth opened as if she were searching for words. I stood, with my hands on my hips, waiting for the explosion.
To my surprise, her face relaxed. “Good,” she said, “cause I’m worn out.”
While I stood stunned, she went into the house, took a quilt and pillow from the closet and returned to the covered front porch. I watched from the doorway as she wrapped up cozily on the cushioned swing.
Her calm touched me as I looked out at the crisp, autumn day. The only sounds were the rustling of the orange and yellow leaves being shaken from the trees in the gentle breeze and acorns dropping rhythmically onto the roof. Three hours later, she still slept among the autumn splendor.
Now her bad attitude made sense to me. She had been exhausted.
Proverbs 24:32 in the NKJV says, “When I saw it I considered it well; I looked at it and received instruction.” The NIV says, “I applied my heart and I learned a lesson from what I saw.”
The visual was a perfectly timed lesson reminding me that I, too, need to be mentally still.
In Luke 10:38-42 Jesus lovingly corrects Martha about her busyness. Occasionally I put my name in place of hers and imagine Jesus speaking to me:
“Debbie, Debbie, you are distracted with many things to do. Come to me and rest awhile, for you work so hard and are stressed and tired.”
He might even add, “Meet me on the private limb of the tall oak tree!”
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31b (NIV)
I’m learning that when I become too busy, I overlook the joy and beauty in the task at hand. Even if my body momentarily stops–like at a red light–my mind continues to move in fast-forward, looking ahead to the next task. There’s not much joy in that. Like my daughter, I realized that this busyness leads to physical and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion affects my attitude and I become irritable, short tempered, and impatient. In conditions like these, being used by God to minister to others can be difficult.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
God used my daughter to open my eyes then and He used the squirrel on his private limb to remind me today to stop and be still for a moment (or two).
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
Don’t be scrambling with the dozens of squirrels in your circle. Be that “different” squirrel and go out on a limb!.
“This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” Isaiah 66:1 (NIV)
Debbie is co-founder of Shine! Ministries and a partner with The Polished Conference. She would love to come speak at your next women’s event. For more information visit her website: www.debbiepresnell.com or visit her page on facebook: shineministriesnc. Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.