Today I had an unexpected encounter on my morning walk and I confess now to you, dear readers, I was not prepared for this particular encounter. I was enjoying the still life beauty of this fall morning when I came across the fallen frame of one of my adversaries, lying there at the side of the road. The sight of my fallen, furry foe was a gruesome one and took me by surprise.
Now by fallen fury foe I do indeed mean what you may already be suspecting that I am referring to – which is, yes, the body of a dead squirrel. Now furthermore, you may be thinking, given my status as an active target of the squirrel population’s bad acorn hurling behavior this autumn, that this discovery today would have brought me some measure of joy or glee or perhaps satisfaction.
You would be wrong. I was surprised to find, myself, that I felt only pity and a sadness at seeing this startling sight so up close and personal. No escaping or unseeing the lifeless form of my former foe. Of course, I don’t mean to say that this particular squirrel participated in any of the acorn attacks, ambushes or avalanches that I have experienced in recent days. (see post “C.C. an acorn ambush #94” & “C.C. true confessions fyi #98”, for further explanation) I simply don’t know and can’t know for sure.
Was this deceased squirrel one of the ringleaders in this fury forest creature practice of trying to take out unsuspecting pedestrians and innocent cyclists? Or maybe he/she was just a compliant pawn in carrying out the governing squirrels’ vendetta against humans? Was he/she one of the inciters or instigators in these squirrel ambushes? or maybe an instructor, training squirrels in the latest acorn hurling techniques? or maybe he/she was just following orders?
whatever the truth is, I feel no elation at my enemy’s demise. That defies explanation except for these words of Jesus in Luke 6:27-29 which instruct me to,
“Love your (my) enemies, do good to those who hate you (me), bless those who curse you (me), pray for those who mistreat you (me). If someone strikes you (me) on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your (my) cloak, do not stop him from taking your (my) tunic.”
I find that putting the personal pronouns in there of “me” and “my” forces me to take Jesus’s instructions more personally, not allowing me to pretend they are words meant for someone else to follow. I am to follow what Jesus tells me to do. Jesus even asked in Luke 6:46,
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
my answer? probably because it is hard, it goes against my naturally sinful nature and it requires that I learn humility, obedience and trust. These are not easy attributes to come by. A high price is paid for the acquiring of these three which begin with an attitude but ultimately manifest in an action. (actually in a lifetime of many actions)
The actions of humility, obedience and trust are the proof that any person does indeed possess these costly attributes. Still the instructions don’t make sense. Why would I do good to those who hate me? These squirrels have been targeting me, tormenting me, taking away my sense of safety and peace on my daily walks and bike rides.
Still I don’t return fire, throwing their acorns right back at them. And I don’t demand that all the trees be cut down. Then they would have no place to live and to play and would have no source of food. I think the squirrels and I could co-exist in peace, if they would just stop their surprise acorn attacks.
I don’t wish squirrels ill or want them dead. I just wish squirrels would find a new hobby or a new sport to replace their current game of acorn ambush or how many humans can you hit? I’m thinking a good replacement game would be hide and seek with all those acorns. Isn’t that something squirrels do naturally anyway, hide nuts and then try to find them again? So it would be a win/win situation for all of us!
This is certainly what God wants for us as His image bearers – to live in peace with each other. But I have to take the first step. I can’t wait for the squirrels or the other person to make the first move. In fact in Romans 12:16-21 I read these clear commands regarding my part in bringing about peace –
“Live in harmony with one another. . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Furthermore 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tells me something about love (remember I am told to “love my enemies”) and this is what that looks like when put into action,
“Love is . . . not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (I wonder if the squirrels have been keeping score – I confess, I have) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
That is why I can take no delight in a fallen foe, fury or otherwise. Even if my fallen, fury frienemy was the organizer of the ongoing acorn assaults that targeted me personally after my posts came out that exposed their bad behavior and their heretofore hidden agenda, even if it were that very squirrel – there is no cause for celebration.
No the celebration comes when, as I read in Luke 15:7 & 10,
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. . . . In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
I guess that’s why I am told to “pray for those who mistreat me” and to “overcome evil with good.” If I engage in the actions of love from 1 Corinthians 13, always protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering – perhaps foes will be turned into friends and there will be celebrating in heaven over each one.
sincerely, Grace Day