Jim Johnson – 745 words

When I grow up I’d like to be a squirrel, or at least be as determined. 

My wife and I love nature, but we have black thumbs.  Every bush we plant, lives a tortured existence and quickly turns to fertilizer.   So, we get our fix from a bird feeder instead.

I bought one, filled it with seed and suspended it on a pole.  We went out the next morning to enjoy nature, except there were no birds, because there was no seed.  There was however, a bunch of squirrels with gang tattoos, who had cleaned us out.

This aggravated me because the label on the bag said bird seed, not squirrel seed.  And they ate an enormous amount.  One of them looked like a little sumo wrestler without the diaper.

So then began my battle with the squirrels.  I put a barrier on the pole, but they easily bypassed it.  I improvised more attempts and they laughed.  When a barrier slowed them down they jumped from the trees with the greatest of ease.

But then I took a big trash-can lid and suspended it beneath the feeder.  O yeah!  There was not enough stretch in them to get past this one.  I finally won a round.

I spiked the ball in the end zone when I bought a sunflower seed mix.  This was too much for one of them.  He began to daily, gnaw at the trashcan lid until he whittled it down enough to bypass it

I was mad now!  I took a 5-gallon bucket and suspended it upside down. (see the pic) It was thicker plastic and there was 18 long inches to gnaw.  It took him forever – but he did it. 

Then I tried coating the rim of the bucket with Vicks VapoRub.  He would sniff it and run for the hills. Score another round for me (although he was grateful that his sinuses were cleared).

He countered by going for the motherlode which was in a sealed plastic bin in our garage.   One day we found him inside it luxuriating on top of 10 pounds of seed, like Scrooge McDuck basking on his mountain of gold.   

Only one solution left.  I baited a small animal trap with some enticing pecans.  The sneak couldn’t resist.  We caught and relocated him.  He is now a determined nuisance to someone else.

Such determination might look good on me!

Long ago I reported for my first ministry position as a pastor.  Before that I had been a printer, a broiler cook, taxi cab driver, printer, maintenance man and llama keeper.   I worked jobs where my value was measured by the volume I produced or how much money I made for the owner. 

But the work of a pastor seemed nebulous to me.  I didn’t like it.  At the end of that first day, I bought a newspaper to look for another job.  My wife was ready to club me. 

My response to difficulty back then was to cut and run – to give up and look for something else – to find a goal that was easier to accomplish.   So unlike Mr. squirrel. 

Jesus was at work in me though.  He said, “But as for the seed that landed on good soil, these are the ones who, after hearing the word, cling to it with an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with steadfast endurance.”  Luke 8:15 NET Bible®.   He tells us that the faithful, fruitful Christian is one who is marked by the quality of steadfast endurance.

The two are actually one word in the Greek language of the New Testament.  It means to remain under a great weight.  Think of a weight lifter who snatches 500 pounds from the floor and though tempted to drop it, he stands under it and keeps it elevated.  That is steadfast endurance – sheer determination. 

What might happen if God’s people were more determined? 

Instead of fleeing a problem-prone church, he might stay and become part of the solution.  Instead of abandoning a difficult marriage she might stick it out and find that the grace of God is enough to turn it around.  Instead of quitting a job in discontent, he might persevere and find that he gets promoted.  Instead of letting difficulty quench our faith, we could be steadfast and wait for God to show Himself.

Hey if a squirrel can do it – we can too!  We would please the Lord and amaze ourselves.  


I have included a link to a song I wrote, maybe one of my best, but certainly one of my most transparent because it highlights my weakness in this area.

It’s Always Harder Stayin’ Here – Written and recorded by Jim Johnson