"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
May 13, 2015
Several weeks ago, I was outside in our backyard and got a glimpse of an animal that I couldn't figure out what it was. I told Jon that it kind of looked like a squirrel, but it was slowly slithering on its belly across the ground. It had gone under the fence into our neighbors yard, so I didn't get a good look at it.
A few days later, we pulled up to the front of our house and saw this same animal in our front yard. We got out of the car and Jon walked over to check it out. It was a squirrel, but it had apparently been hit by a vehicle and it's back legs and tail were broken; so it was having to crawl around on it's belly using it's front feet to pull it. We saw it slowly climbing up a tree. Jon debated on whether or not he should put the poor thing out of its misery, but never had the opportunity.
For a couple weeks, we would see this broken squirrel every day or so; sometimes in our front yard and sometimes in the back. One day, I let Sammie (our dog) out into the backyard and heard him bark. I checked to see what was going on. That squirrel had been at the tree closest to our house when Sammie went out. It had managed to climb up on the tree and make its way about a foot off the ground. When I got out there, the squirrel had a petrified look and was lying on its side with one foot clutched to the tree bark, holding on for dear life. Sammie had no interest in harming it (at least I don't think he did), but was just curious and sniffing at it. I called him off, and let the squirrel make its way to safety.
Then came the day that I pulled into our driveway and saw a dead squirrel lying beside our neighbors mailbox. Apparently, it had tried to cross the street and wasn't quick enough to dodge a vehicle. Our conclusion was that it was finally put out of its misery and wasn't suffering anymore. We're sure it was the wounded squirrel that had been hit because we haven't seen it since that time.
There are times in life when we feel somewhat like that broken squirrel. We feel crushed and as if we can barely make it from one day to the next. We keep plodding along, trying to survive, but feel like the burden we're carrying is pressing heavily upon us.
We know that God is our source of strength and hope; but at times, He may feel far away and our situation seems hopeless. We may wonder how long we can continue on under the stress and hardship, and it feels like our circumstance is without end.
There are days when it feels as if the enemy is on our heels, trying to sniff out the situation to see if he can destroy us; and all we can do is barely hang on by the skin of our teeth. But God doesn't allow us to be consumed by the enemy, but calls him off to give us a chance to rest and find a place of safety.
Job felt that way. He had lost everything; his family, everything he owned, his health; yet he continued to persevere and look to God as his source of help and strength.
In Job 19:20 (NLT), Job says, "I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth." (Did you know that saying, "By the skin of my teeth" came from the Bible?!)
Despite the odds, Job chose to hold fast to his trust in God and remain faithful. He didn't get much encouragement from his friends, but kept his focus on God. In fact Job's wife said to him, "Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die." (Job 2:9 NLT) Wow, that's pretty bad when you are dealing with a desperate situation and the best advice you can get from your spouse is to curse God and die! Yet Job didn't give up, regardless of how bad things got, and in the end was blessed more than he had ever been in his entire life. Throughout all his loss and suffering he had no idea what the final outcome was going to be. He didn't know if he was going to live or die. Since he had lost everything he owned, he didn't know if he would be a pauper or have his wealth restored. But he chose to love and honor God, even when he felt as if he had escaped death by the skin of his teeth.
When life seems the most hopeless and stressful and painful, we can find hope and strength in the Word of God. We can look to the promises of God and stand firmly upon them, knowing that what God promises, He will bring to pass.
Psalm 147:3 (NLT) - "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Job 5:17, 18 (NLT) - "But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. For though He wounds, He also bandages. He strikes, but His hands also heal."
Psalm 34:18 (NLT) - "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
If you are feeling crushed, brokenhearted, or wounded, know that God has not left you or forsaken you. He is always near and hears the cry of your heart. He promises to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. He promises to be close to you and rescue you. Don't fear, don't give up, and don't despair. Lay your burdens and cares at the feet of Jesus, leave them there, and allow Him to bring restoration and peace.
After I saw the poor little broken squirrel, I decided if I got the chance, I would put it out of its misery. I even set out a rag and a container of acetone. We've caught a couple wild squirrels in the house before (when I was young), and throwing a rag over them and wrapping them up is a pretty safe way to catch them, and they actually calm down fairly easily. I thought with a little acetone, it would be a gentle way to put it to sleep. It certainly seemed better than whacking it with a shovel. Or at least that was what I hoped.
Fortunately, the problem was taken care of without my intervention. I was willing, but really didn't like the idea. I do like the idea of getting rid of the able-bodied squirrels, but that poor little crippled creature didn't seem like the little tomato-stealing, birdseed-stealing rodent it had been before. But I didn't have to bother because the little guy crawled back onto the road that had taken his back half, and lost his front half, too. It certainly doesn't seem kind, but I trust it was the best thing for it.
Sometimes we make our own plans to take care of situations, when God really has it all planned out ahead of time. We think things are up to us, and try to take action without asking God if that's what we should do. There is a scripture that says that God takes care of the sparrows and the grass of the fields, so why shouldn't He take care of squirrels, too? Even if they are a nuisance. And if He would take care of a squirrel, how much more will He take care of us? And like the squirrel, that care may not always seem kind, but I trust it to be best.
Chocolate Chip Cake
1 pkg. Duncan Hines Deluxe
butter recipe cake mix
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
1 small pkg. chocolate chips
Combine all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, together using a mixer. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake in a well greased and floured bundt pan at 350 for approximately 1 hour.
Jon and I were visiting his dad in the nursing home a few days ago. We were leaving his room and there was a lady, who was in a wheelchair, sitting in the doorway directly across from Stan's room. I walked out first, and she smiled really big at me and said, "Well there you are! You're looking good!" Thank you very much! Jon and his dad followed me out and walked over and spoke to her. I had stepped to the side of the doorway. She then looked over at me, frowned, and said, "I'm so sorry! You're not looking too good today." I told her perhaps I would be looking better the next time I came for a visit. I concluded that I must look better from the front view than I do from the side! You never know what you will hear or see in the Alzheimers unit!!
Making a life change is pretty scary. But know what's even scarier? Regret!
Be courageous today.... and tomorrow!! - Betty K. Parton
We love you!
Loretta & Jon