Leadership training for squirrels??? I wouldn’t have believed it, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!
For many years now, we have enjoyed watching birds of many kinds and colors partake of a tasty feast from our bird feeder out front. It hangs from a spot on a tree limb far away from the tree trunk. A spot we thought was well outside the physical capacity of any squirrel that might consider a leap.
Our theory proved to be true for many years. Until we encountered a squirrel of faith — faith as small as a bird seed.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a [bird] seed, you can say to this [bird feeder], ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20, New Florida Squirrel Translation)
At first, we just saw the bird feeder on the ground, its wire hanger straightened by what could only have been some extra weight pulling on it. So we started to watch. That’s when we saw him — this Squirrel of squirrels, who believed. Who took that first Leap of Faith, unhindered by any fear or by the potential harm he risked if his Leap of Faith met with failure.
As any good leader will do, once he had succeeded, he taught others to follow his courageous example! The bird feeder was now spending more time on the ground than in the air. We moved it another two feet away from the tree trunk, certain the squirrels could never span the extra distance.
Never say “Never.”
“… with God, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
I could relate to that little squirrel. I remember the day many years ago when You first taught me about the power of a Leap of Faith. I was facilitating a ropes course as part of a week-long executive leadership and team development program. I had a fear of heights and, as a person of integrity, I knew I had to face my fears… just like I was asking my clients to face theirs.
This wasn’t a lot of comfort when I stood at the base of a 40-foot telephone pole erected on the edge of a hillside that dropped off into a ravine. I had to climb the pole, crawl onto a pie-plate sized platform (that wobbled and spun around), stand up on that wobbly pie plate, turn around 180 degrees to face the ravine and leap out to catch a trapeze hanging in a tree some yards away.
Yes, I was in a safety harness. But as I stood at the base of that pole, considering this challenge, I knew when I was 40 feet off the ground (on unstable footing), that safety harness was going to disappear in a hurry and I would be left staring into my FEAR!
So I decided, before I started, that I wanted this whole exercise to be an encounter with You, Lord — when I was walking (or in this case, climbing) by faith, laying myself and my fear on the altar… experiencing Your Presence and Your Peace that defied the circumstances. At the top, I didn’t want my goal to be leaping for that trapeze. Instead, I wanted the sensation of leaping into the void with abandon. Taking a giant Leap of Faith into Your arms, with my eyes wide open… knowing You were sure to catch me.
I did all that… and WOW!!! For me, it was a God-encounter of Biblical proportions!!! It was forever life-changing! Letting go of my FEAR that had kept me grounded. Grabbing hold of You — the Hope of the World — who says with You, all things are possible!!!
So what is today’s lesson? No Leap of Faith is without risk or consequence. But FEAR, more often than not, is False Evidence Appearing Real. And You, Lord, are always — always — worth of our FAITH. Because You, are our Forever Almighty Incomparable Trustworthy Help!!!
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
The Lord who takes care of the squirrels and the sparrows. The Lord who takes care of me.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 11:29-31)
What Leap of Faith awaits me — or any of us — today, Lord? Help us take it… and be changed, yet again, forever!