One thing I’ve learned about this journey of faith as a church planter is “Don’t be a squirrel.” Specifically, “don’t be a squirrel crossing the road.”
What happens when a squirrel tries to cross the road? Invariably they see the oncoming car and stop in the middle of the road. Then they freak out and jump back and forth, still in the middle of the road.
Then he does what to him I suppose seems safe and logical. He turns and goes back from where he came! “NO! Keep going!” THUMP, THUMP. Goodbye squirrel…
If only he had just kept going, he would have made it. Why do they do that? It seems more times than not, that’s what a squirrel does and it almost always leads to their demise.
Now a rabbit is different. The rabbit crosses the road and just keeps going. He doesn’t slow down, he doesn’t stop. He keeps moving forward and most of the time he makes it. Oh yeah, occasionally you see a rabbit that has been run over, but most of the time if you were to try and hit a rabbit you couldn’t. He doesn’t freak out in the middle of the road and turn back.
I think that as a church planter, it can be easy to be a squirrel in the middle of the road when you see the oncoming traffic: the lack of funds, the lack of people, no place to meet, can’t pay the bills, equipment needs, difficult people, whatever struggles you face. You can try to do what seems logical and safe and turn back, like the squirrel. Stop planning, stop reaching out, don’t do that next mailer or event, change back to what is comfortable, don’t push the envelope, worry about what some “church people” might say, don’t implement that new ministry, don’t hire that next staff person…you get the idea. It may seem safe and logical, but if God has called you to do it, be the rabbit. Keep moving forward. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Yes, be smart. Yes, be a good steward. Yes, definitely make sure God is in it and you’ve heard from Him before you move (He better be or you’re really in trouble), then go…don’t turn back or stop in the middle of the road.
So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.
If you panic in the middle when you should be moving forward in faith, you might end up roadkill. Don’t be a squirrel.