Despite the fact that my family and I live in an urban area, we are regularly visited by more rural creatures. A few years ago, we had birds nesting in our window boxes. Then, the other night my wife told me that while I was attending the church’s prayer meeting, a family of raccoons (a mother and five babies) were stranded on our neighbor’s roof. Somehow they had climbed up but apparently they were now unable to go back down. Jeanine, David and Joshua were intrigued by the mother’s watch-care over her rambunctious litter as she divided her time equally between finding a safe path for her babies off the roof and controlling their rolling into the gutters and running around and over one another. Jeanine had no success at calling animal control and in the morning the newest residents of Nahant Avenue were gone.
As Jeanine recounted her observations of this family of raccoons, it was obvious that her concern was that one of those little babies, completely unaware of the danger, would playfully roll too close to the edge and plummet the roughly 20 feet to the ground. She identified with the maternal instinct of the mother raccoon as she would grab and pull back to safety her little ones. Through it all, the babies simply wanted to play – chasing one another and rolling around into cracks and corners, seemingly oblivious that trouble lurked just inches away.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)
In many ways, I am like one of those baby raccoons and God is that attentive mother. I am regularly courting danger, oblivious at how close my destruction may be. In hindsight, I can recognize places of reckless behavior: there are times that I drive too fast, lift too much, dabble with sin too carelessly and stand too close to the edge. It would be impossible to fully comprehend how many times I was ignorantly heading for death (at least spiritually if not physically), only to be rescued by the hand of my loving heavenly Father. When I was about to fall, the Lord interceded in my life and spared me the damages I unknowingly planned on experiencing.
Like I said, we do not know how the raccoons got off the roof; all we know is that in the morning they were gone and there was no sign of any negative outcome of their evening in danger. It is the same with all of us – not only do we rarely recognize the danger, we also rarely recognize the redemption. We remember the fun we had and forget the risks we took. It is unfortunate that we only occasionally sense the hand of God – redirecting, redeeming and reaching us – at our regular moments of needed rescue. Praise Him, He is always there, whether we know it or not.
I’d like to think that those five little raccoons are in a wooded glen, frolicking with their mother. I’d like to think that the real dangers they experienced on the neighbor’s roof are never realized. I’d like to think the same for all of us, that God will continue to guide us through the valley of the shadow of death while we fear no evil. I’d like to think these thoughts might make me rethink my own plans, which leads to destruction, and follow God’s direction, which leads to life.