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The gnawing problem

The gnawing problem

Apparently, I’ve got new neighbors.

On my walk today, about a quarter mile from my house, I turn to stroll around the lovely, little pond built at the edge of a shopping center for run-off water.  I’ve seen wildlife here before: herons, ducks, even a muskrat.  It aways surprises me to see nature in action so close to home.

But today tops them all.  Beavers have moved in.

I don’t know what they’re thinking.  Granted, their incisors can grow up to four feet a year if left unattended, so these trees may just be a drive-by chewing.  But then again, they may have seen the still water and thought this a pleasant place to build a lodge.

If so, it won’t be an easy task. Not if they need privacy to work.

These beavers have me thinking about my own endeavors. This is the time of year where I take stock, mull over direction, and decide what to reach for in the coming year. As I do so, I wonder about pursuing something without knowing what success it may have.

On one hand, I think of Jesus’s words regarding building a tower (or becoming his disciple):

For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:29-30)

One could say, also, “Having gnawed down trees and are not able to use them, dog-walkers will laugh at you.”  Jesus considers it wisdom to count the cost.

A blind alley might be wise to pass by.

But on the other hand is faith. 

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:20-21)

Faith is not built on what is seen.  It’s not daunted by what seems possible.  Kingdom endeavors are not equal to the sum of the observable conditions.  Paul reminds us that God’s power in us can do “exceedingly more than what we can ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20)

Maybe that alley is the right path precisely because it is blind. The way through is given to God to reveal.

I think I’m on the side of the beavers.  Yes, there might be no future in their undertaking.  But some things you can’t know until you try.

So, I’ll pursue my idea for a new art-based ministry I have in mind, not knowing where it will lead.  Or even what the next step is.

Maybe I just need something challenging to chew on.

Lord, give us the courage to step out in faith AND wisdom, whatever balance that may be.  We will follow you.  And we’ll step out in faith.

Reader:  what might God be calling you to undertake this year?  I’d love to hear about it!

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you’re enjoying these, why not encourage someone else to subscribe!  Here’s the link.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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