"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A different view from the deck

I have written many times about how much I enjoy sitting on the deck and watching the birds and other critters cavort in the backyard, in the privet and along Camp Creek. It is generally a peaceful world out there regardless of whether it is in the morning or in the evening. However, there are times when troubles come to the backyard.

In recent weeks, there have been coyotes, foxes and bobcats trolling along the creek bank foraging for food, or perhaps taking an early look for a place to spend for the winter months. On occasion, they have come up into our neighborhood for some reason and have caused some concern and fear among our community. The most frequent time for these visits are usually early evening or during the wee hours of the morning. People are taking greater care to look around well before they leave their homes to see if some of these predators are around. Those with pets are keeping them inside or very close at hand if they go out. We feel fairly safe in our homes with the regular McDonough Police driving through to watch out, but there is no one to protect us from these animals that have been patrolling our streets and backyards. There have been those of us who live along the creek that have almost felt like we were being held hostage in our own homes.

Life can be very similar. We can feel fairly secure in our own spirituality, sometimes to the point that we become smug and complacent. After all, we are believers and followers of the Almighty God, the Creator, He who can do all things, etc. We go to church, bible study, Wednesday night suppers, give to missions, help out at local charities all the things we are supposed to do. We’re happy in our own little worlds…just you and God. And that’s okay.

Then the predators begin to sneak in. Maybe a harmless flirtation becomes a little more serious. Perhaps a book that is read or a movie that is watched gives some ideas about alternative lifestyles that are appealing. A beloved friend or family member (or pet) dies unexpectedly and we can’t quite grasp a divine purpose for it. Maybe we begin to see things in our church or our church leaders that don’t seem acceptable. Before we know it, the predatory creatures of the spiritual world become to creep in. Doubt, hurt, curiosity, questioning, anger. All things that left alone can cause your faith to be chipped away at slowly, but surely until you are not sure at all where God stands in your life. Oh, He is still there, but we just kinda begin to wonder.

This problem can be two-fold. One is that it is so easy for all of us, repeat, all of us to be susceptible to these spiritual pitfalls. We need to be constantly aware of their presence and guard our body, hearts and minds against falling prey to them. The second is that we do not become an agent to cause others to doubt, to struggle, to fall. This can be harder than it seems because we can lose ourselves in our own spiritual smugness and not realize we are causing others to stumble. Very much like the Pharisees.

Just as I enjoy watching the beauty and the good parts of God’s creation from my deck, I have to always keep aware that there is danger in the beauty. The hawk occasionally gets the bluebird and there is nothing I can do to stop it. However, I can protect my heart and my faith if I am diligent.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


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