A Different Kind of Monk

In my solitude with Jesus at a monastery I met a monk who taught me to listen to God. You might expect that. But this was a different kind of monk: a chipmunk!

I met this chipmunk during a silent retreat that was part of a two-week seminary class taught by Dallas Willard. What a joy it was for me to be unplugged from my e-mail, phone, Facebook, and all my work and ministry responsibilities for two weeks so that I could be focused on being a student of Jesus’ with my mentor assisting.

The Way of the Chipmunk

My chipmunk friend  lives in an ancient forest of live oak trees in Bailey Canyon, near the Mater Dolorosa monastery. He has a lot to teach us about how to pray and how to live our lives. (It’s amazing how much I’m able to hear when I’m quiet and Unhurried before God!)

Like the best of the monastics, this monk is a bi-habitational creature of the earth and the sky. He walks on the ground like you and I, but he also lives in the sky with the angels and the all hosts of the heavens. That’s where his home is, up in the sky in the highest branches of an old live oak tree.

He uses the materials of earth to build a nest for himself and his family in the sky. First he finds a floor of leafy branches almost at the top of the tree, but underneath another layer of leafy branches that provide shelter from the sun, rain, and wind. Then he searches on the ground for twigs and one by one he carries each up to his spot. He carefully weaves them together to form a base. Finally, he starts adding green, leafy branches by gnawing each off of the tree, putting it in his mouth and jumping from branch to branch, and placing them carefully in his nest until it becomes a soft, snug home for his young.

Live by Faith

It takes great vision and courage for an earth creature to see the possibilities of a nest in the sky. It takes great perseverance to keep doing the mundane, earthy work of quietly caring for others. This is the way of love in the Kingdom of God.

O that you and I would be like the bi-habitational chipmunk with his home in the heavens! Oh that we would learn to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7), realizing that in every situation and every moment we have a choice which landscape we will live from: the visible circumstance or the invisible and larger reality of the Kingdom of the Heavens in our midst. Indeed the spiritual realm of God’s Word and his government is more real and lasting than the ground that we walk on (Matthew 5:17).

Do we have as much faith in the reality of the invisible presence and action of the risen Christ around us as in the visible earth we walk on? Are we living from the spiritual resources of God’s Kingdom in our midst or our physical circumstances?

Genuine faith (or confidence) in Jesus Christ is based on knowing the reality of his presence and activity, not only in history, but also in our own life experience. Our Bible Study on “Knowing Christ Today” discusses this.


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