The oak trees scattered throughout our retreat center property are alive with squirrels this time of year, and I am fascinated by the busy activity. Oodles of leaves have fallen from the long stretching tree limbs onto the cabin roofs, and squirrels are dashing back and forth gathering them up one by one to construct their nests for the spring season. The entire process takes hours, and the focus of the squirrels to complete the task of creating a safe place is a lesson in diligence.
The ongoing cycle of nesting is something I have long identified with, which is probably why one of my favorite things is my small collection of bird nests, each delicately woven in circles with pine needles, straw wrappers, stray tinsel, and a number of other unusual findings which lend themselves to wrapping, poking and tucking. A few of the nests have hard muddy bottoms to provide safety for the tiny new life they will support.
I think of the great care my husband and I have taken in selecting what we would bring into our nest to provide a nurturing environment for our children, for our family. To keep them safe from the storms of life. To ensure warmth on the cold, dark nights.
I remember how careful we were in the building and the weaving. We tried to be diligent to create a strong foundation which would support years of growing and living. And we didn’t stop there. The nest walls were reinforced with truth and faith to shelter from the strong winds threatening to topple.
What a beautifully orchestrated design we weave in our nesting, you and me. At the very root is our deepest desire to provide a safe place. A loving place where our family will never feel alone or unloved.
Yet, even as we find ourselves spending an abundance of energy and time in building and weaving, we must recognize the limitations of our efforts. Relentless winds are still able to penetrate our tightly woven walls. Intense storms manage to shake loose parts of those places not attended to consistently, and pounding rains threaten to wash away the sturdy foundation of faith which holds the nest firmly in place.
The truth is, despite all our detailed efforts, we don’t always feel safe.
We cannot predict what will come our way, and we certainly do not have the means to stop it. In all of our urgent scurrying back and forth, gathering anything possible to fortify our nest for the stormy seasons, we cannot ensure safety.
So, what are we left to do? When one of our children must fight to survive a serious disease. When the one who helped us build our nest decides to leave. When the financial nest egg we have carefully tended to crumbles in a moment. When someone we love decides life is no longer worth the living.
How do we ever get back to safe?
It begins by making a choice. We make a choice to believe…to believe we are not alone. We believe the words God plants in our souls, that He is with us, He goes before us, and He will never leave us. Even when we feel otherwise, and safety is a fleeting notion, we choose to believe we are not alone.
This truth is so pivotal when we really allow it to drench our unbelief. As it floods and penetrates the walls of our hearts, we can choose to dismiss the stress, the anxiety and the need to control. We can choose to cease the frantic scurrying, and rest, knowing our foundation is not dependent on our own efforts but on the design of the Master Builder.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24(NIV)