Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our Little Brown Bat

“Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”  (Ezekiel 33:11)

      We had a sad little visitor last week.  A small bat was lying on its stomach face-down on our front porch.  Clayton had just left for work and came running back in to tell me that he thought the bat was dead, and he had tried to move it, but it had raised its head and opened its mouth and clicked angrily at him.  He took this picture.  
     Later, I went outside, and stared at it for a long time, seeing if it was breathing.  I couldn’t see any rise and fall of its little back, so I went to the garage to get a dust pan and a brush.
     I walked over to it, gave it one gentle sweep and it lifted it head and opened its mouth quite wide.  It had an impressive set of teeth and the interior of its mouth was bright red (yes, Dracula came to mind).  I apologized and felt rather hopeful that all he needed was to rest. 
     I went out a few hours later, hoping the warm sun would heal the little guy and he would be gone.  Sadly, no.  I couldn’t see any sign of respiration, and the gentle sweep of the brush yielded no reaction.  Then it struck me: how sad.  This little guy probably had gotten disoriented, wearily landed on our porch and died of exhaustion.  I felt very bad for him; the suffering of little things affects me very much and I stood over him, feeling very helpless.  I didn’t know what I could have done—probably nothing—but that did not lessen the sadness of having watched something small die.
     I went online and found out that our wee visitor is called a Little Brown Bat.  If bats are brown, they are crevice-dwellers and if they are lighter in color, they dwell in trees.  This little guy was chocolate brown.  I later talked to my neighbor and he said that the fire last month must have displaced the bats, because now he has four or five of them flying around his house.  He loves that they take out all the flying insects around his house.
     Then it struck me:  this little guy may have struck out in the wrong direction (perhaps in pursuit of an insect?) and then got disoriented.  Exhausted, he landed on our porch. 
     If I could stand on my porch and fret over the life of this one little bat, how much more so does God hover over His creation and grieve at the death, destruction and sin of the ones He loves?  Do we picture a God Who gleefully watches sinners fall, and then walks away with a “you get what you deserve” kind of attitude?  Or do we see God as the unconcerned, watching from a distance kind of Parent, Who doesn’t want to be bothered with His children’s misery?  Do we see God as helpless, that He can’t or won’t intervene? 
     Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:8-11:   “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?   If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”   
     This tells me three important things about God: He is hidden in plain sight:  He is accessible, but expects us to seek Him and be actively pursuing Him—He is not a divine Waiter where we snap our fingers and there He is.  Secondly, He is waiting to bestow good things upon us:  He wants our obedience, just as an earthly father wants obedience from his children.  He is eager to then release His loving kindness upon us.  And finally, we are flawed creatures, yes, but we recoil at suffering and want goodness to prevail: He, Who is without flaw, wants the best for us.  
     He wants our spirits to be whole and walking in His light.  He does not rejoice when we fly upon His porch, exhausted and perhaps very close to giving up.  He hovers over us and unlike me, where I could do nothing for my little bat, He is desirous to extend His hand of mercy and comfort. 
     Does that mean we will never again get disoriented, exhausted or unable to cope?  No, but He walks beside us, giving us strength and wisdom to face each day’s challenge.
Precious Father:  Sometimes I am exhausted, and just want to settle down on a porch and let it all go.  Please remind me that You stand over me, and help me to let it all go: to You.  I may not rise up right away, but it is in Your Presence that I will draw comfort for another day.  Amen.

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