This world is full of so much hurt, isnt it? Dear friends of mine all over the country are enduring trials that are trying to consume their weary, battered hearts. It’s so easy to get consumed with our life cirumcstances, especially when we keep taking beating after beating. It can leave us feeling broken, deflated and overwhelmed. Sometimes, we even feel alone in our stumbling journeys and think no one could possibly understand what we are going through. Then God sends us someone to come along side us, teach us and take care of our wounded hearts. That happened to me, only he was in the form of a raccoon. Sounds crazy, right? It was.
One night we noticed a crippled raccoon eating cat food outside on our back deck. We have all kinds of wildlife (that apparently love cat food) that crash our deck and if they don’t bother our cats or trash our things, we just let them be. But on that night, we noticed this particular raccoon was struggling to even walk. He only had two good legs – one in front and the opposite one in back (because God is gracious that way). He hobbled to eat and hobbled away. Every night after that, he would appear, yet each night he looked more battered and bruised than the day before. Chunks of fur would be missing and deep wounds would be evident. One evening, we even thought he had lost his eye in a battle, yet when the swelling went down, we could see that it was, indeed, still there. We grew fond of the raccoon and lovingly named him Dually, in honor of his two working legs. He even starting coming around during the day and would curl up like one of our cats. He was enjoying the peace and security our deck brought him.
One day, we were heartbroken to see that he was now dragging himself on his stomach, using the only one good leg he had left. I don’t know how he was physically making it, dragging himself up the stairs to our deck. It broke our hearts to see him struggling just trying to move. Eating proved to be such a challenge, also. He would drag himself over to the bowl and eat the pieces on the ground so he wouldn’t have to lift his head. It was so sad to see him so broken, and knowing later that night that whatever was attacking him was going to make it worse. One evening, my sweet husband and daughter decided they needed to make a house for him – a sanctuary where he could rest and be safe from the attacks that were wielded upon him night after night. They made some sweet memories that night as they constucted Dually’s home – memories my husband says have been imprinted in his memories forever. And this home… it turned out beautiful.
My daughter was in charge of decorating, so the front was painted with four colorful, tall flowers beside a drawn-in window (in case he wants to look out, I’m told). The back has a huge rainbow filling it, yet the side is my absolute favorite. You can’t see it from the sliding glass doors, so I didn’t notice it at first. My sweet daughter had carefully painted a big sign in green glitter paint on a separate piece of wood and attached it to the side of the house – it simply said Welcome. When I asked her why she had put such a beautiful sign on a side no one would see, she explained, “That way when Dually drags himself up the stairs, he knows he is welcome here”. And just like that, tears welled up inside me and began to fall and I could see, so clearly, what God was whispering to my heart.
Dually’s life wasn’t easy – he was the weakest link in his world and that world was beating him down. He was overwhelmed with pain, overwhelmed with suffering, overwhelmed with fear of what lied ahead every evening. He was all alone and had no one to help him (I mean, not many people would love or help a raccoon right?). Yes, I know he’s just a raccoon, but stay with me for a minute.
That sanctuary that my loves built was screaming to my heart. You see, the very next day, Dually entered his house and has barely left it. We look out and see him sticking his head out to let the sun fill his battered face, and he even lays on his back spread-eagle, enjoying his restful shelter. Dually didn’t know rest. Yet, once he found it, the sanctuary from his overwhelming world, he never wanted to leave. Maybe he felt welcome, and maybe for the first time, peace.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed with life? I sure do. Yet, that crippled raccoon reminded me of something very important my heart had temporarily forgotten. Even though there is so much hurt in this world that can be so ugly at times, we have a shelter from our overwhelming circumstances. God’s arms are stronger than any shelter we could ever construct ourselves. Those arms withstand all storms, no matter the severity. And, when this world beats our hearts raw, there is a shelter where we can find true rest. Guess what – there is even a welcome sign for you, dear one, because He wants us to come to Him. His arms have constructed a shelter just for YOU! I’m pretty sure I know what mine looks like – it is identical to the one built out of love and tenderness that my family built for a young, battered raccoon.
So that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. Romans 15:32
One evening, my kids, while watching Dually drag himself to the food bowl, excited exclaimed, “Mom! Dually looks like you somedays!”. We laughed and decided he was my new mascot. But, as the laughter died down, I realized just how true that was and what honor that statement brought. Like Dually, I, too, feel overwhelmed with a world where survival of the fittest reigns. I, too, feel wounded and battered from all the world’s hurts and disappointments. I, too, feel alone and weary.
Yet, even though it could take me entirely longer than the rest to drag myself up the stairs of life, I now remind myself to look for the welcome sign at the top on my restful shelter – a shelter found only in my Father’s arms. For only in His shelter, can I truly rest. No worries of the outside world are found there and on a good day, I can even lay on my back, spread eagle, in true submission to His peace – a peace only possible from the restful shelter of His arms around my overwhelming-filled life. From there, I even feel safe to poke my head out and let the Son fill my wounded, battered face. It’s a warmth unlike anything I’ve ever felt…
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jeremiah 31:25
P.S. Please don’t worry about us and our raccoon. I am a country girl and I KNOW better than to try to pet him. I KNOW they carry diseases and we have watched him very closely for those signs. He’s just weak and worn and has dragged himself into our hearts. We love him… but from afar. ❤️