While thumbing through the morning paper a couple of weeks ago, I came across a delightful story. Brian Genest, a 17-year-old from Maine, was taking a walk through John Chestnut Park in Tampa, Florida. He saw what appeared to be a friendly squirrel relaxing on a handrail. Genest reached for his phone, put it in camera mode, and decided to take a “selfie” of himself and the squirrel.
Click! Flash! And the squirrel went berserk. He jumped Genest’s back, crawled under his shirt, and did what panicked squirrels do in that situation. It was not pleasant. “He was just in that spot where my arm can’t reach him,” Genest said. “I threw myself on the ground, and that scared him off.”
In a day when most of us are more into self-love, self-expression, self-fulfillment, selfishness, and selfies than we are into self-denial, self-sacrifice and self-discipline, we could use more squirrels like that one. I know I could. What if every time we were poised to do something self-centered, some squirrel jumped down our back—you know, enough to take us to the ground and get us thinking about God and others more than self. I think I’d be more Christ-like, more a giver than a taker, and more Christ-centered and other-centered than self-centered.
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). Jesus calls us to keep Him at the center and keep ourselves on the edges. God’s given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to choose the Lord and others over self. And while the Spirit is a great help, my bent toward self is so pervasive I could still use that squirrel. How about you?