Squirrelly Business!

As we were pulling out of the garage this week, I looked straight out to the street area and saw a captivating sight. One, from our family of gray squirrels, was perched and relaxing upon the fire hydrant that sits between our property and that of a neighbor’s who just happens to be a firefighter! I loved the humor in this and wanted to send him the picture that I took with a caption regarding the legality of what I was seeing.

Is this legal?

Illinois law is specific about fire plugs and parking. You cannot block a hydrant or park a vehicle any closer than fifteen feet in any direction. This is for obvious safety reasons. Firefighters must have access to these “Johnny Pumps” during emergencies. (If you doubt the use of this Yankee synonym for hydrant, just look it up!). I wanted to ask my firefighter neighbor about the squirrel, “Is this legal?”

I’m always curious about why the neighborhood squirrels like to get up a little higher while they’re nibbling on the acorns from my oak tree in the backyard. Daily, I look out the kitchen window and see them on the fence, the flower box, and I even caught them one day “hiding” a corn cob on the top of one of the overgrown shrubs that line the front of the house. What is all this about? I know the answer. It makes them feel taller!

I recently went to my wellness appointment at the doctor. As a routine exercise, they record your weight, height, and blood pressure. After I had weighed, the nurse had me stand straight with my rounded shoulders as straight as I could. Before telling me her findings, she caught me a little off guard with the question, “How tall are you?” I answered, “Not as much as back in the day!” Truth is… I am losing ground on my height. It has gone down from 5 feet 10.5 inches to 10 to 9.5 and now, to 9. My dad was 5’8’’ and my nearest brother was 5’6’’. What did I expect? It is what it is!!

In Bible days, King Saul of Israel was characterized as standing “head and shoulders” above the average height of an Israelite man. (1 Samuel 9:2). Some scholars have estimated that Saul was close to seven feet in height. Yet, his nemesis, Goliath, the Philistine of Gath, and an enemy of Israel, was even taller and much stronger. Goliath was a giant of a man with an estimated height of nine feet, nine inches or “six cubits and a span” according to Scripture. (1 Samuel 17:4, KJV).

One day, Goliath provoked an engagement to battle with Israel. He taunted the Israelites camped in the Valley of Elah, “Give me a man, and let us fight each other.” (17:10, NIV). When David, the youngest son of Jesse, heard this, he inquired, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v.26)

Then this youthful and teenaged shepherd boy did the unthinkable. He volunteered himself to face the giant! Upon sizing up David, Goliath disrespected him and said, “What am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.” (v.43). While King Saul and the “Israelites were dismayed and terrified,” (v.11) at the sight of Goliath, David said to him, “You come to me with a sword and spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day, the Lord will hand you over to me…” (v.46). And so, David prevailed over the giant that day!

There is a popular worship song on Christian radio today. We regularly sing it at our contemporary worship service, and I know that it is a blessing for other believers at many church services as well. It’s entitled, Same God, (Brandon Lake, 2022) and affirms the truth about how we serve the “same God” as David when we read the stirring story of his victory long ago over giant Goliath. There is one memorable line for me in that emotive song that declares, “I may not face Goliath, but I have my own giants.” 

Then the chorus and bridge connect our struggles with this story in a powerful, confessional way, as we sing out, “O God, my God, I need You now. How I need you now… You heard Your children then, You hear your children now… You moved in power then, You move in power now… You are the same God, You are the same God!”

This Bible story reminds us that David didn’t need to stretch himself or get up on a high spot to seem taller in God’s eyes. He just knew the greatness of our God and in simple faith trusted Him to deliver him and the people of Israel back then in that situation. Let’s remember, He is the same God for us… yesterday, today, and forever!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 
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