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Do Not Feed the Animals (mainly squirrels)

Traveling to a National Park is an amazing experience. As a side note, if you live in Iowa, you have to travel quite a distance to visit a proper National Park (the Gateway Arch is not quite as majestic as Rocky Mountain or Zion). At these parks you can see amazing views of mountains, valleys, and landscapes that point to the awesome power and creativity of our God. If you are fortunate, you may also get to see some amazing wildlife. Along with all these things you will also see signs that state: Do Not Feed the Wildlife - Violators will be fined.

As we were at Zion this summer we saw deer, big horn sheep, lizards, and squirrels. As good law abiding citizens, we did not intentionally feed any animals. However, we saw others who thought it was fun to feed the cute little squirrels. I am sure they thought they weren’t doing any harm and that feeding a few little squirrels would not be a big deal. However, when we were at one of the most popular hiking trails we saw why feeding the squirrels is not good for anyone (squirrel or human). First of all, the squirrels at that point were much fatter than the squirrels in other areas of the park. Secondly, they were unfazed by humans. They would approach you until you physically tapped them with a walking stick or foot. Not only were they overweight and annoying, they were also aggressive, sneaky, and a nuisance. To illustrate this, we had a few granola bars in our zipped up back pack. Nataly had set the bag near a rock as she and Haddie explored the river bank while others of us hiked a little up river. The next thing she knew she saw a stranger moving our pack. She quickly went over to see why he was moving it, to only see that he moved it because a squirrel had partially unzipped it and stolen 2 fully wrapped granola bars! These squirrels had gone from cute little beggars to outright thieves! We were completely unaware of the scope of their delinquent behavior. We thought this kind of stuff only happened in movies or GEICO commercials. We were surprised at the changed nature of these squirrels. I am used to squirrels running away from me when I am out running, not pursuing me and stealing things out of our backpacks. If all squirrels acted this way, runs at Easter Lake would take on a whole new dimension. If you are skeptical of the damage these squirrels can inflict, Google: “Do not feed the animals Zion” and you will see the damage they can inflict on someone’s hand.

As I reflected on this experience, I thought about the warnings throughout the New Testament to not feed our sin nature. However, sometimes we treat our sin nature like many people treat the squirrels at Zion National Park. They look harmless, and we think there won’t be any consequences to feeding them. However, the more they are fed, the more harmful these squirrels become. When we feed “small” sins and allow them to remain around, they grow and cause more harm. Just because an activity or sin may seem “acceptable” or “harmless” that does not mean it is. Solomon wrote that the small foxes spoil the vineyards. It is sometimes the seemingly small or unassuming sins that will ruin our lives. We were bought with a price. Sin does not play fair; it is seeking to destroy us. God warned Cain of this very thing in Genesis 4:7.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

We need to be careful to not feed the sin in our lives or it will bring us down.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:16-17

Do not feed sin; it will damage your soul. By God’s grace, may we walk by the Spirit and take steps to starve our sin nature.

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