About twenty years ago Cecelia and I were blessed with Anna Katherine (A.K.), the first of our four grandchildren. Wanting to do something for her and others who might follow to enjoy, I built a sturdy structure for a swing close to the creek that runs through our property. What a great idea and what a wonderful return on the time and money I spent to construct the swing! That swing has witnessed lots of laughs and screams as A.K. and the three grandsons have enjoyed it through the years. I think I enjoyed watching them swing as much as they enjoyed using it.
After the last grandchild (Jake) outgrew the swing, the structure stood lonely and unused for a few years. A couple of years ago I realized that the old structure wasn’t seeing much use and decided to bring some enjoyment and laughter back to it. This, I thought, would be a perfect place for an adult swing; a place to relax, be quiet and enjoy the babbling of the creek and the beauty of our backyard. It is all of that and more! But there is a risk I take every time I go there to rest or meditate. Bird poop! Let me explain.
For several weeks I was frustrated that almost every time I wanted to use the swing I had to clean up the bird poop. Being the “problem solver” I am I attempted several things to discourage the bird’s lack of consideration, including covering the swing with plastic. The plastic worked but who wants to look at a swing always covered with a poop-smeared sheet of plastic? This called for drastic measures. After some serious thought and research, I decided to construct a spike-board over the swing to stop the birds from landing on the overhead beam; sometimes you have to get serious and take action to mitigate the risk. I’m sure the AAPCA would frown on what I’ve done. This 6 ft. board has 130 nails daring any bird to land there to do their business. ”
The spike board worked! For several days I visited the swing to reassure myself I had taken the risk out of using the swing. It was clear that the birds were avoiding the spikes! However, a day or so ago I went to enjoy the solitude in the swing to discover a familiar deposit on the swing; bird poop. Wondering how this had happened, I cleaned the area and sat down to relax and meditate. I did not know what was about to hit me. Yep. You guessed it; right on the left thigh of my pale blue pants. It was a long-distance shot from a tree behind my swing.
Well, what am I going to do now? I’m not going to cut the tree and I’m not going to stop using the swing. I’ve weighed the benefit vs. the risk and I think what happened may happen again, maybe one chance in a hundred. I enjoy that swing and a little bird poop is not going to stop me from using it.
Life is risky, isn’t it? Almost everything that is worthwhile involves taking a chance. Marriage, children, friendship, loving someone, driving, flying, investing, sitting in a swing, and many other things come to mind. But what is life worth if you allow yourself to be controlled by the fear of what might happen. We can’t control what is outside our control but we can do what we can to mitigate the risk. Still, there will be “bird poop” or other kinds of stuff we will encounter.
( Insert Mark Twain’s statement about worry here).
My little story can serve to illustrate some great truths for myself and others who will listen:
- Life isn’t supposed to be easy. We can learn what’s really important through the troubles and frustrations God allows to come our way. I don’t learn much when life is easy. We have to weigh the benefit vs. the reward.
- With God’s help, we can deal with the challenges of marriage, child-rearing, jobs, investing, friendships, and health issues by absorbing His word and putting it into practice. Don’t give up on what’s really important to you. I like what Psalm 1:1-2 says about those of us who rely on God’s Word to guide us: How blessed is the man who “Delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on His law day and night.”
- Life is a faith adventure. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will lead you on the right path.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
- Remember the big-picture plan God has for us. God is working in everything to make us more like Jesus. Romans 8:28. We need to adjust our life purpose to align with His plan.