Perky! Bright-eyed and bold. Three squirrels were testing boundaries the other day. A chatter of Mums had brought their children, mostly about 2-3 years old, to see the squirrels of Hotham Park. The plan was to feed the wee beasties with nuts and seeds: so the little kids were encouraged to crouch down, be still and hold out a handful of food in the hope the squirrels would come and get it.
I don’t blame the squirrels for being cautious: a small pack of children is a daunting prospect. It was going about as well as you’d expect. Just as Nutkin nuzzled at fingers, the child would squeal and either grab at Nutkin or run away. Cue Nutkin up the tree again and looking at me suspiciously. Reset positions, wipe noses, whisper terse instructions to tense toddlers… and it all happened again. Eventually small fingers dropped enough peanuts to make a raid worth the risk! Bold buccaneers, three squirrels darted along the ground scooping up breakfast, then made a break for the tree.
Children (and Mums) eager to give their largesse… squirrels eager to chomp safely… photographer being patient. All the ingredients for a happy outcome: and fortune favoured the bold.
One child actually succeeded in feeding one squirrel by hand. Big smiles and “Oooos” and “Ahhhhs” rang out whilst another Mum caught the “Dramatic Moment” on her phonecam. That child will probably have to live that photo down at his/her wedding in 20 years time!
Parents measure the risk to their kids. If all goes well, at least one child may have a memory that will shape their attitude to wildlife. If things look dodgy, parents can scare the squirrel off. Everyone’s a winner, even Nutkin.
Childhood is full of learning experiences like this.
As I watched, I thought about the many times when Father God has taught me to learn new things and be bold. Most of the time, it took several attempts to win! I jump too early, or too late. I squeal with excitement and scare off my squirrels. I choose to eat the peanuts (no, no, no… I wouldn’t… would I?).
Being bold doesn’t come naturally. There has to come a time when desire for the reward outweighs the risk of failure or pain.
As the season of Lent proceeds, we can follow the journey of Jesus. Luke 9:51 tells us that “Jesus set his face resolutely to go to Jerusalem.” It was time to be bold, and the disciples were like innocent children, not yet understanding what would happen to Jesus in Jerusalem. He taught them, encouraged them, challenged them- and they failed the test! Jesus took the risk of crucifixion instead of the “easier” plan of revolution that many Jews were hoping for. It was was only after Gethsemane, the Cross, and the Resurrection that the disciples grasped the depth of God’s Love. Even then, it took the Pentecost encounter with Holy Spirit fire before brash Peter became bold Peter.
I wonder what challenge God may lay on me this Easter? At what point will boldness be required?
At that time Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and declared, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”
“Someone” will have to be bold if our community is to hear and understand the “good news” that IS Jesus.
As I said earlier: Being bold doesn’t come naturally. There has to come a time when desire for the reward outweighs the risk of failure or pain. Lord, give a gift of holy boldness!