The Tale of the Cannibal Squirrel

Yesterday, I witnessed an amazing thing. I wish I had a camera so that you could see it. Buddy, my dog, was begging to go outside, and as it was a perfect sunny morning, I stepped out onto the deck with him. He started to bark at two squirrels crossing an electrical line behind our house. One of the squirrels scolded him profusely, the other laid flat on the wire, tail hanging limp. Buddy lost interest. I did not. The first squirrel began pacing away from and toward the still squirrel. After several minutes, I ran in to get my phone and prepared to call animal control, suspecting that something was wrong with the rodent who refused to move. When I came back they were both gone. My eyes followed the line to the tree where I knew the squirrels had their nest. The healthy squirrel was jumping from line to tree with the other squirrel of equal size in its mouth.

I had been praying when all of this happened. I was asking God for direction because I was preparing for the Write To Publish Conference and was feeling frightened and unprepared…stuck in the middle of many tasks not sure which direction to take. I found myself frozen, much like the flattened squirrel, tail hanging limp. After I received my new job, I felt uncertain about where this left my writing career and I didn’t know whether I should move on toward the goal, or forget the whole thing.

As I continued to research squirrel behavior for this post I found several disturbing articles. I thought that my squirrel was being friendly, and helping his fellow furry friend. What I found instead was horrific! The truth is that squirrels are cannibals, and the little beast was carrying the other squirrel to its demise. I thought that the horrible noises I had heard were the healthy squirrel crying for his injured companion. Instead, I found out that the screams were from the injured squirrel being eaten alive. I felt sick. I assumed that I was getting a beautiful revelation about how we need to help each other when one is too frightened to continue alone, and instead I had a tale of a cannibal squirrel.

But then, I thought about that paralyzed squirrel. It would not move forward. It would not fight for the ground that it had conquered. I think that I can tend to be like him, and when I let the enemy terrify me that way, I allow him to destroy me. The truth is that God has equipped us. He has equipped us to move forward. When we look back, we become like Lot’s wife and we are destroyed. Moving forward keeps us from being eaten alive by our fears and by our enemies.

The fact of the matter is: I haven’t finished either of my novels. I have very little published. But…Phil. 3:13 says,

I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…

What lies directly ahead for me?  The Write To Publish Conference.  So, I will spend the bulk of my days this next week preparing for what lies ahead.  What is that “one thing” that I need to focus on?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus, the author.  Jesus is an author!  He knows what it is to have an incomplete work set before Him, because that incomplete work is me!  Jesus, the finisher.  He knows how to finish what He has started, and He will help me to do the same.  He finished for the joy that was set before Him.  I will finish for the same purpose, the joy of completion.  Because it is this joy that makes the suffering of the journey worth it.

I wonder what would have happened if the injured squirrel would have pressed forward to what was ahead instead of stopping dead in his tracks?  I am determined to keep moving, even if it is at a crawl.  I focus on moving forward with the tasks that I know He has placed in my hand, and because He is an author and a finisher, I can be too!



A Wrinkle In Time Series Pt. 1 – Books That Inspire

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know how much I love Madeleine L’Engle.  One of my deepest regrets is that I never made it to one of her many writing conferences at Wheaton College.  My love affair with all things “Madeleine” began when I was in about sixth grade. My mother and I were on a quest to read all of the Newberry Award winners, and I came upon Madeleine’s A Wrinkle In Time.

I don’t know if any book, other than the Bible of course, has had such a strong impact on my life as this book did.  First of all, I was going through a very ugly stage.  I could completely relate to Meg Murray, who had nondescript mousy brown hair, thick glasses and braces.  Minus the braces, it could have been a description of me.  Not only is her appearance insignificant, but she feels that she is inadequate in every way.  She doesn’t do particularly well in school, although she is a math whiz, and she isn’t good at sports or music.  She feels completely useless.

Much of that changes during the book.  Meg is able to solve a deep problem for her family, to have a popular boy show interest in her and most importantly to she finds value in who she is.  The characters in the novel are quaint and lovable, and Madeleine’s search for God comes through in the pages.

As an adult fan of her work, I’ll never forget reading about her struggle to get this book published.  It was her first major work for children.  She was about to turn forty, and was wondering whether she should give up writing and concentrate on her family.  (Sound familiar anyone?)  On her birthday, she received a letter from a publisher.  It was yet another rejection.  She went on a walk to cry and talk to God.  “God, why all these rejection slips?  You know it’s good; I wrote it for you.”  It was only through an acquaintance that she was able to have her Newberry Award winning book published.

Although the book became part of a series, the books each stand on their own.

I will be exploring other Madeleine Books in the next few weeks, do you have a favorite?