If you’ve heard me preach a few times, you’ve more than likely heard the infamous “Squirrel Story”. It’s kind of a Jerry Clower meets Billy Graham account of a “true as it gets” event in my life which forever altered how I would view those devious, cunning and dangerous rodents.
The story, in very short form, goes….
Once upon a time there was a young preacher who was experiencing the worst month of his life. Due to the series of very unfortunate events that transpired in the aforementioned 30 days, he and his family eventually gave the period an unaffectionate title, “The month from Hades”.
You’ve heard of “Murphy’s Law”, right?
That’s kind of what things had become like. No HUGE issues (as most deem huge). Just small/nagging/constant ones. Things like water lines bursting at home. Nothing going right at work. Your two front tires randomly blowing while driving down the road….being followed by your transmission going out shortly after you replace those randomly blown out tires. Things like a cold that turns into a walking flu, getting pulled over in a parking deck in Dekalb county by the SAME Policeman who had pulled you over a half hour before on the highway while you were headed to the parking deck and kindly left you with a warning because you pulled the “preacher in a hurry” card and assured him you’d be safe from here on out.
There’s more. Much, much more.
I’m not gonna give you the pleasure of laughing at my multiple remaining misfortunes though, so you’ll just have to fill in the spaces I’ve left out with odd problems that just don’t happen in real life. It’ll have to be something that only happens on sit-coms or Road Runner Cartoon (in case you are wondering, I would have to play the part of “Wil-E-Coyote”). Don’t think you can guess what issues we had? Use your imagination. Go ahead. Think of something. Anything. Got something? OK – I’m sure that happened to me too, during the “Month from Hades”.
Like all things, good or bad…the “Month from Hades” had to come to an end eventually. I knew that and I banked on it. You’ve been there before as well. The thought that at some point, I’m gonna wake up and NOT fall out of the bed, catch my pinky toe in a knot on our hardwood floor, ripping it off and having to drive myself to the ER to have it fully re-attached (YES. That happened. Told you you’d have to use your imagination, huh?). I seriously contemplated wearing a helmet full-time. It was that bad.
“Help me God! This can’t go on forever”…”Come quickly, Lord Jesus”…these were the two most frequently uttered words from my lips during my trial.
Jesus answered a portion of that prayer. He didn’t split the sky in His glorious appearing but the “Month of Hades” did finally come to an end.
Of course, as I should have anticipated, it ended in dramatic fashion.
At the end of the month (and my proverbial rope), I had decided to take the advice of my friends and just get away for a while. They’d witnessed my month from Hades first-hand and though they wouldn’t stand beside me in a thunderstorm…they did love me and thought this would help. So that’s exactly what we did. Got away. Rest. Relax. Go enjoy the peace and serenity of Gods creation, which was the only thing that hadn’t turned on me thus far. I was going camping.
For some, relaxation comes in the form of a hot stone massage or a good book. For others, the only thing that will take them away is Calgon. For me, pure relaxation, unbridled rest, depressurization comes in the form of a series of intricately woven ropes suspended between two shade trees…a hammock.
I cautiously strolled toward my refuge of ropes (Given all that had occurred recently…had to be careful here. Lots of roots were hiding within the soil but ready to pounce on my feet, sending me to an untimely demise). To my surprise, without incident, I made it to my safe-haven. I climbed into my cocoon and began to sway in the Lake Hartwell breeze that gently nudged me to and fro. The beams of springtime sun delicately kissed my face and the sounds of the campground filled my ears.
I’d made it. It was over. Life in abundance had returned. I was going to have a good day.
I closed my eyes for a moment to soak it all in. THIS IS THE LIFE.
Suddenly, above me, high atop the Georgia pines that firmly held my swinging fortress…there was a commotion. I heard a demon in those trees. Instinctively I quickly opened my eyes, only to see that strangest sight I’d seen in my relatively short existence. Something was falling from the source of the demonic noise high above me. I couldn’t make out what it was, neither was their time to move out-of-the-way. I closed my eyes, braced for the hit and…
Not “thud”. Not “bam!”….”SPLAT!”.
After the initial hit and still a bit dazed and confused, I reopened my eyes and saw a demon, seemingly grinning as he perched his bushy tail on the branch 30 feet above. It was a squirrel. It was a squirrel who had evidently gotten into a bad bushel of acorns. It was a squirrel that had pooped all over me. All. Over. Me.
At this point I was on the edge of crazy. It was almost an “out-of-body” experience where things just seemed to be playing in slow motion. I’d just had the worst month of my life capped off by a shower of squirrel poop.
Yet all things considered….My reaction surprised me.
I could have checked into an asylum (they’d have taken me…I am sure I was “certified”). I could have gotten bitter and cynical toward life in general. Shoot, I could have curled up in a fetal position and sobbed in self-pity.
Instead, I laughed. Hysterically.
So did my wife, children, extended family and the squirrel (I’m sure he did…little devil).
We just laughed….And that was the BEST response imaginable.
I learned a lot from that devious squirrel and those lessons carried over to yesterday. One of the biggest lessons…chill the heck out. Life is good.
As you can imagine, I don’t play well with squirrels any more. I have guns (and lots of them) that allow me to do some therapeutic target shooting (you can imagine what my targets are). I have trained my son, my daughters and my wife to control our local squirrel population as well. I have a big lab that I’ve trained to tree and retrieve the bushy-tailed demons when I blow them out of the trees in my backyard. In fact, I have a collection of squirrel tails now that brings me joy whenever I walk by them.
You say I’m cruel? I’ve taken it too far? I’ve gone mad? Squirrels are sweet, innocent creatures?
Friend, you don’t know squirrels (arch-enemy of mankind).
Case in point- yesterday, Annette called me at work and mentioned my NEW Nissan Truck was running funny and the check engine light had come on.
“No big deal. Just take it to the dealership”, I confidently say.
As the service man approached her an hour or so later, he kneeled beside her (for future reference, if a mechanic kneels beside you, he comes bearing bad news). He explained the problem to her…
“Ma’am, there isn’t much that could be wrong with your truck that wouldn’t be covered under warranty. Almost EVERYTHING is.”
“O.K.”, she replied. “That’s good”.
He continued, “BUT. It just so happens that the ONE thing that your warranty does NOT cover is the problem you have”.
“What’s that”, she hesitantly asked.
“Rodents”…He continued…”Squirrels and chipmunks to be exact. They’ve nested in the engine, chewed wires, gas lines and everything else. Ma’am, you’ve got a $1,300 squirrel problem.”
Yes. I am DEAD serious.
Thankfully, GIECO covers squirrels and we’re only gonna be paying around $500 out-of-pocket and driving a rental car for a few days but I’ll tell you the news of the squirrel sabotaging my ride took me back to the pooping demon atop the Georgia pines.
And I couldn’t help but laugh.
Truth is, whether it’s squirrels that have your number or anything else….life is best when it’s taken in stride.
Far too often, we sweat the small stuff, we react to every little trouble in a “life or death” fashion and become drama kings and queens about things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Jesus has made it very clear that He loves and cares for His own. He’s wonderfully good and faithful and has never let any of us down.
He has filled our lives with blessings that far outweight pooping or engine wrecking squirrels. Think on that…trust Him…and chill out.
What are you needlessly (and faithlessly) stressing over right now? Got any squirrels in your life?
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Kyle “The Squirel Man” Caudell