It was one of the great mysteries from my childhood.
I can’t remember the exact year probably during December of 1967 or 1968. But someone kept stealing the outdoor Christmas lights from our house. My stepfather went to a lot of trouble to nail them in place every year, so it was particularly annoying to him that they kept disappearing.
He was convinced the neighborhood kids were responsible. And that’s what I grew up believing as well. I was even sure I knew who the perpetrator was – the boy who lived next door to us. I didn’t have any proof. Even on those nights when I was posted outside to guard the lights, I never caught anybody in the act. But we were all sure some “wild kids” were behind this mischief.
Then an article appeared in the news about a woman in Seattle, Margaret Rican, whose Christmas lights were being stolen – just like ours had been more than 40 years ago. The difference was that she caught the culprit on camera. And guess who the thief was? Some young punk? No. The Christmas bulb bandit was a squirrel. Yes, a squirrel, who thought he’d discovered a cornucopia of colorful nuts. In one 24-hour period, this busy little guy ran off with 150 of the poor woman’s Christmas bulbs.
You know, when I read this story, it dawned on me that there may not have been any “young punks” who were stealing our lights after all.
All these years I lived with the notion that some “wild kids” had stolen our Christmas lights – most likely the kid next door – and I still felt angry about it.
Yet the guilty guy was probably none other than some shifty-eared squirrel who thought he was gathering nuts. All this time I’d been believing a lie. I held hard feelings toward somebody who had nothing to do with it. There was no malice in anyone’s heart. No one was laughing about it behind our backs. It was just a little critter who was doing what he could to survive the winter.
It makes me wonder how many other “evils” have been perfectly innocent. How many of those “dirty looks” from others have no ill-will behind them, but are only the expressions of a worried mind? How many of those “selfish and thoughtless” people who cut in front of me were simply lost in their anxious thoughts? Probably most or all of them.
Everyone’s got their share of troubles. We shouldn’t read more into their behavior than is really there.
Everyone is fighting a battle of their own. Everyone’s got their share of troubles. We shouldn’t read more into their behavior than is really there. They are people as troubled and perplexed as we are, and they are bound to commit an oversight or make a mistake. Most of the time, none of us is the target of malice or hatred. We’re just crossing paths with people carrying a heavy load.
Besides, why focus so much of our attention on those imaginary conspiracies of evil, when there is a marvelous divine conspiracy to bless us, to provide our needs, to defend and protect us, and to save us eternally? That’s what God occupies Himself with – our welfare and salvation. And He is working all things (both the pleasant and the painful) together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Let’s feed our thoughts on that reality.
Dear Father in heaven, thank You for Your overpowering love. Please remove fear and hatred from my heart and replace it with faith and love. Amen.