Christian Short Stories

Packrat Blessing
By Jim Cox

Jim writes: I'm a retired minister. My ministry now involves being active in the the arts. I write and perform original Christian poetry to "live" audiences, write non-fictional short stories, and paint landscapes and portraits. These abilities belong to the Lord, and I use them for His glory. The following is a true story.

We camped in a group of light gray-barked aspens whose dancing leaves fluttered in the cool breeze like tiny silver-tinted hands waving to us in welcome. Their trunks moved together rhythmically, slow-dancing under an electric blue sky that almost crackled and seemed to tint passing clouds with shades of glowing azure and indigo.

Blue jays jabbered at each other like housewives gossiping across backyard fences. Gray squirrels hovered on the outskirts of the camp, fluffing their bushy tails, their bright, beady eyes watching intently for any invitation to freeload.

An eagle might have thought the silver and gray tones of the small band of aspens and poplars surrounding us looked like a tiny colorful oasis as he passed high overhead viewing miles and miles of lush green Utah forestlands.

We couldn’t seem to relax and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding us, even though we had vacationed in places like this a few times. We were just too tense.

It was June of 1977, and something alarming was happening in the ministry we had pioneered and pastored for the last nine years. We were experiencing revival and it was spiritually refreshing. The presence of the Lord was very real, and heartfelt conversions were the order of the day.

In spite of the blessings associated with this blessed time, people began leaving the church, without any adequate explanation.

The ominous feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re falling, the sense that things are out of control, began to grip us. We prayed for guidance, but the heavens seemed silent. We had some vacation time, so we decided to get away and try to get a fresh perspective on everything.

In the midst of all the natural beauty of God’s creation, that should have been a comfort to our hearts, my wife lost her gold wedding band. We searched frantically around the well-ordered campsite for two days, but with no success.

We were moping around when a particular squirrel began making a nuisance of himself. He was larger than his furry companions, and clicked and chattered more insistently than the others for treats.

When we snacked on wheat thins, he sat on his haunches brazenly demanding more than his share. He then carried each cracker off to some mysterious hiding place and promptly returned for more. We usually loved being around these little critters, but were in a bad enough mood that his clicking sounds were really starting to annoy us.

The next day was filled with the delightful sound of woodpeckers and blue jays. We were sitting, dangling our bare feet in the sparkling cool waters of the stream that flowed by the edge of our camp. We were distracted from our reverie by the squirrel that suddenly appeared by my wife’s left leg, trying to get her attention.

When she turned and scrutinized him with her best “if looks could kill” look, he scampered a few feet away, and began digging in the soft sand. He picked something up in his mouth, ran back, and dropped it at her feet. Tears filled her eyes as she peered down at the metallic glint of her gold ring!

We barely noticed as the squirrel clicked loudly for his cracker “reward”. What an answer to prayer! It was almost as if the Lord had a sense of humor, and was saying, “You thought I wasn’t listening, didn’t you?”

His faithfulness, in spite of our despair and unbelief, inspired our confidence in His ability to help us face the problems that waited for us back home. They didn’t seem so impossible anymore. This was truly a packrat blessing!

(© 2010 Jim Cox – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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