The Day the Racoons Came to Town

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

by Lisa Greene

Have you ever had an unwanted guests just show up and decide to stay for a while?

On top of that, did those guests have four legs, fur, sharp teeth, and long tails?

We had not one or two, but five of those guests serve as a welcoming committee when we arrived at our home.  Since country living is new to me, and I am just a city girl from Florida (and most recently Alabama) hoping to adjust to transplanted life amidst the corn fields of Ohio, when these four-legged, furry guests took up residence in our home, it was a shock!

But God is ever purposeful!  Nothing He does is without a plan and goal in sight. As finite beings with limited vision into today and even more limited into tomorrow, we can often find ourselves struggling with the unwanted events that we feel God allows to enter our lives. I didn’t want those raccoons in my house!  I didn’t want the disruption they were bringing to my life. No sooner had we gotten the moving truck unloaded, they showed up!

raccoon-202675_1920.jpgBut wait!  Upon further investigation (i.e. crawling through the basement duct work, removing the basement ceiling, following the traces they had left behind) we found that they had not JUST shown up – they had been there long enough for momma raccoon to do some nesting, have a full litter of babies, wean them, and begin to train them in the habits of nightly scavenging hunts.

What we were actually hearing was not just one or two, but a momma and her four babies, night after night, crawling out of the house for their hunting adventures, returning in the early morning hours a little playful and energetic from their adventures, and then finally getting quiet by mid-morning and through the remainder of the day. They had actually not just showed up when we moved in but had been there for several months at least!

As we saw it, we had two options – live with and accept them as permanent guests or find a way to clear them out and claim our new home as our own.

Life is about claiming what is ours. Sometimes that requires clearing out a space or two, sometimes it requires doing a total overhaul.

In our spiritual life, it is also about claiming what is ours – ours through the power of God. Though we might think the daily struggle we face with unwanted issues in our lives is brought on by this person or that person, this situation or that situation, the reality is that our real struggle is far deeper than what we see with our human eyes. Our struggle is against those forces of evil and darkness, spiritual wickedness that we can’t see with our human eyes (Ephesians 6:12). Those are the unwanted guests that take up residence around us, interrupting the lives that God has planned for us, causing us turmoil and unrest, unbelief and anxiety. We have two choices – live in defeat and despair while we allow Satan to rule and reign in our lives, or claim the promises of God, put on the whole armor that He has provided for us, and defeat Satan through the power of God!

Satan is real. He wants nothing more than to steal our joy, kill our desire to serve God, and destroy our testimonies (John 10:10). He is at work! He is someone you can’t see, but who is at work underneath the surface of our lives, our homes. He’s working to cause whatever disruption he can orchestrate.  But the choice is ours as to how effectively he works in our lives.

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We had a choice to make with those raccoons – let them stay or get rid of them. Getting rid of them was a time-consuming, difficult, sometimes nasty job. It even required help from others. Each evening we set the traps, baited the critters with sardines, peanut butter, or some such tasty treat, and went to bed hoping to find the trap occupied the next morning. Some mornings it was, some mornings it wasn’t. Some mornings we woke to find that the critters had actually figured a way to remove the treat we had so carefully placed for them, without setting off the trap! Go figure!

Finally, after days and nights of endless effort, and great perseverance on our part, we caught the last one (at least for this season). Then the rest of the work began. We had to clean out and repair the damage that had been done, making sure to close off the entrance they had created for themselves.

Getting rid of and banishing Satan and his minions from the occupancy of our thoughts, our homes, our lives, is only the beginning. We must secure our hearts, our thoughts, our actions to ensure that he is not able to take up residence again. Putting on the full armor of God daily, along with the power of prayer, forces him to know that we mean business sword-790815_1920.jpg(Ephesians 6:13-18).  The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).  With the spiritual weapons we have been given we no longer allow him to wreak havoc in our lives, destroying our homes, our families and our relationships, but rather we take action and stand firm against him.

While we know that those raccoons are only gone for this season, and there are many more raccoons out here where we live, we are prepared to face them again in the future.  We know that our home is ours, we have sealed the entry way that they used, and we know the signs to watch for when they try to enter again. In our spiritual lives, God has sealed our hearts with the blood of His Son through the redemptive work of salvation.  Though Satan cannot touch our eternal security as believers, he can still battle for our joy and peace.  Be prepared! Know what to watch for, those schemes that Satan uses.  Stay battle-ready every day with the weapons that God has given us.

As I said at the beginning, God never does anything without a plan and purpose in mind.  What we thought was a disaster, turned out to be a huge blessing!  Isn’t that just like our God?  In finding the damage the raccoons had done, we also found some leaking water issues when the repairs were being done.  The repairman said that the leak was serious, but we had caught it in time. If left unfound it would have created a serious mold and bacterial issue.  So, even though that meant a longer and more detailed repair time, we were praising God that it had been discovered.  If those racoons had never come to our house, the issue probably would have not been discovered.  Can we claim, all things do work together for good to those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28)? Yes, we can!

Now, can someone please tell us how to get rid of the pesky hole-digging moles?

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My Story, His Glory

by Guest author Hope Hill (Re-printed with permission.)

A little over 3 weeks ago I noticed a gray cloud forming and moving across my left eye. One thing you need to know about me is that I am not a person who runs to the worst case scenario. I don’t go to the doctor on a regular basis (sorry mom). But all of that is because aside from the occasional cold or filling I have never been really sick. The blessing of health for someone like me is often overlooked and not appreciated until something happens. So I did what you are not supposed to do….I googled it. And all of my worst fears came true. I was reading about retinal detachment, permanent blindness and other eye-threatening issues when fear started to rush over me.  I noticed that I was fitting nicely into all of the right categories for a major eye problem.

The next day I phoned my optometrist to schedule an emergency appointment because a wise man once told me to never wait if there is an eye problem. As I walked in I started to explain my issue to the doctor. She took some tests, and I waited. I then waited a little longer. And even longer. Until finally the doctor came in and touched my shoulder. Uh-oh – this isn’t starting out great. She proceeded to tell me that it looked like a retinal detachment but I would have to see a specialist to determine the intensity of the issue. My worst fear in this situation came true. I was going to have to have emergency eye surgery that day. WebMD – 1   Hope – 0

Then came the tears. A bunch of tears. After 3 more hours of seeing different doctors to figure out just what kind of surgery was awaiting me, it was time. I was having a full-blown Vitrectomy. I will spare you the details of the surgery because that is definitely not the point of the story and super gross. What is important to know right now is that I have a gas bubble implanted in my eye. For 10 days I had to keep my nose pointed to the ground and sleep on my right side, so that gravity will use that bubble to hold my retina in place. If you do not do this properly the gas bubble can damage your eye and could cause blindness.

The medical term for my state (looking down) is called posturing. The word posturing suddenly captured my attention. I knew I had read it in the Bible, but I just couldn’t remember where. So two weeks later when I was allowed to sit up, I began my research of the word “posturing”.  I found many Biblical references to the posture of prayer. Abraham fell upon his face before God. (See Genesis 17:3, 17.) Moses prayed with his hands outstretched. (See Exodus 9:27–29.) King Solomon knelt in prayer. (See I Kings 8:54.) Jesus prayed looking up into heaven. (See Mark 6:41, John 11:41, and 17:1.)

Communication with God does not require a certain physical position, but postures do give expression to the attitudes of our hearts. Wow! What has the attitude of my heart been? Well, I didn’t know the answer to that question right away so I decided to sit in silence, face down, for one hour to hear from God. ONE HOUR, PEOPLE! First of all it is hard for a busy body like myself to be confined to the house, facing down, listening to podcasts. But now the Holy Spirit wants me to be quiet for one hour.

After many mental lists were made (ladies know what I mean) I began to really be still. As I began to listen a thought popped in my head to read the story about Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha. So I scrambled to my Bible app to read the story.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Woah. I am a Martha. As a ministry assistant my entire time is spent running around preparing for events, meetings, etc. And even though all of those things are great and needed, I can’t let the preparation distract me from sitting at His feet. So is it a coincidence that I had a surgery that forces me to posture myself? Is it a coincidence that I am unable to be at work, events, and meetings? No, God is not a coincidence. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together. It is important for us to sit at His feet each day and get a fresh word from Him. God sees and knows what we are going through. He wants to remind us that in whatever situation, He is there, and He wants to be exalted. Every impossible situation is a perfect opportunity for Him to display His power and magnify Himself.

All of this sounds really good when you are not blind in one eye. Even though I heard that awesome Word from the Lord, I was still upset that I had to go through this process. Not because I think I am above it, but because I know He is bigger than it. I wanted God to heal me before the surgery, take away the pain and discomfort and show up big in the situation. But it was at that moment I failed to understand that the greatest expression of our mission can be born out of the deepest pain. It’s the same way that a crucifixion was necessary to bring eternal hope – to transform sin and death into life and liberty. The same way this trial was necessary to transform my life and my ministry. My question to you is what has been your blindness, your darkest hour? Have you allowed God to transform it into the victory and the calling that He intends for you?

I encourage you not to waste a single heartache but to seek for God’s plan in the middle of it. He doesn’t let us suffer needlessly. And your suffering may be the catalyst to what is next!

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Hope Hill – https://hopehill828.wordpress.com