Actual Food — Squirrels
Sustenance for The Spirit
My neighborhood has more than a few trees, so we have more than a few squirrels. I know they provide a needed link in nature’s food chain, and they are so cute, BUT they are positively the most indecisive animals on the planet. I regularly dodge them as they run across the path just in front of my vehicle. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they very often wait at the side of the road and then just as you get close the squirrel decides at that moment to try to make it to the other side. This scenario has replayed more times than I could count. I recently observed a squirrel start across the road in front of me, stop in the middle of the road, dart back to the side he/she started from for about two steps, dart back to the middle, and I honestly can’t remember which side of the road the confused rodent ended up on. I was just relieved that the little cutie got out of my way before I barreled through. I do feel for the little guys, but I do wish they would get their indecisive acts together.
Unfortunately, indecision is not limited to squirrels. I applaud those who can make quick firm decisions, and I have to confess that I’m not among them. I’m actually being a little harsh on the neighborhood squirrels because I often find myself frustrated with indecision. We often judge others when we’re really judging ourselves. This is probably what attracted me to the book, The Next Right Thing, by Emily Freeman. She makes a statement that I find to be so true: “Unmade decisions hold power. They pull, they push, they interrupt where they aren’t wanted and poke us awake at night. They can turn us into strange versions of ourselves.” (p. 12)
I think there is a connection to Ephesians 4, where Paul writes about unity. He explains unity in terms of the acquisition of maturity (v. 13) and then in verse 14 says, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” In James 1:6 the wisdom is, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” In the next verse, the wind-blown person is called “unstable.” Ouch. Wavering indecisively, going from one belief to another, is not portrayed in a positive light. Especially when it becomes a matter of faith.
This is the case with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who went to see Jesus at night (John 3:1,2). It seems Nicodemus had questions for Jesus that required a one-on-one conversation, and perhaps he wasn’t ready for his fellow ruling councilors to know about his indecision regarding this new Rabbi from Galilee, thus the after hours meet time. As Jesus explains being born again, Nicodemus becomes confused and asks, “How can this be?” (John 3:9) Note the doubt, the indecision, the questioning. Jesus is rocking Nicodemus’s world in John 3 and by Chapter 7 we see a glimpse indicative of a continuing struggle. After some Pharisees are appalled at Jesus, whom they call a deceiver. They even ask, “Has any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed in him? No!” to which, in the very next verse, the Pharisee Nicodemus takes up for Jesus by asking, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” (John 7:50) Nicodemus wants to give Jesus a chance. Perhaps he feels that surely he’s not the only one who is having some doubt, having questions and just not yet sure what to believe about Jesus.
But, as the story continues, when it comes time to bury Jesus, it is Joseph of Arimathea who provides the tomb and Nicodemus that provides the burial spices to give Jesus at least something close to a proper burial. As the two men quickly prepare the body they may be thinking of their decisions of faith. They obviously knew that Jesus was gifted, even holy, and I believe that at that point, Nicodemus had resolved any internal conflicts he previously held about Jesus. I believe he knew Jesus was God’s Son, the Messiah. Nicodemus went through a process. He gathered information, straight from the source, Jesus. Nicodemus listened and stayed open to possibilities. And when the moment came, when the decision needed to be made, he was ready to make the most important decision of his life.
We make literally thousands of decisions a day, some without even realizing it, like whether to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, or which direction to turn the knob for water in the shower. Then there are those really big decisions, like faith decisions. We can fret over any decision, making something seemingly small into a mega stressor. Indecision does hold power over us and it can be exhausting. I’ve worn myself out so many times when struggling through a big decision, or a multitude of small ones. And sometimes it’s more of a combination, where the small ones wear us down and then when a big one hits, we just get weighed way down, that is until we actually make the decision. We often feel intense pressure to “get it right” so we hurry into decisions that require more thought and deliberation.
Decision-making is complex. I don’t know all the complexities that Nicodemus felt as he progressed to his faith choice, but since he was a man of faith to begin with, I imagine him talking to God about it in prayer. Nicodemus would have followed Jewish traditions as he wrestled with Jesus’ new ideas. Much of what I read about wise decision-making recommends taking time to be quiet, to think, to pray and allow guidance from above. I think this is where the squirrel just doesn’t get it. They’re always darting around in every direction. I hardly ever see a squirrel be perfectly still for more than a few seconds.
Squirrels are pretty cute, but I don’t want to be one, and I don’t want to be filled with indecision. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. When struggling with decisions, let’s take a few minutes to simply stop. Let’s pray, and when the time is right….let’s decide and go with it. Make today a great day for decisions. Have a wonderful day!