Brilliant sunshine after days of clouds, mist, rain, cold.

Less wind. Warmer temperatures than the norm in mid-January.

Squirrels scampering. Digging up pecans long buried in warmer days. Squirrels trying to find a way into our squirrel proof bird feeders!

Birds. One. Two. Safety perceived, others begin to come in mass. White winged doves. Chicadees. Finches. Woodpeckers . . . Birds of winter doing what they were created to do – fly, forage for food, feed on seeds. Preen their feathers. Bask in the sunshine.

This morning, I’m writing, reading, enjoying time seeking the Lord. Cup of coffee steaming by my side!

Another glance outside. They are gone. All of them, squirrels and birds. Just as suddenly as they began coming to feed, they disappear.

A neighborhood feral cat has decided that our yard would become its home. Strutting around like it owned the place. Burrowing under our small playhouse in the back. Cuddling up against an aging elm trunk on sunny days . . . and killing my birds. Feathers strewn by the playhouse, birds now are only part time visitors.

I love birds. They are part of the peace in nature that I revel in on days I have time to stop and look. They are reminders of the pleasures of feeding on God’s provisions, living side by side in harmony with others, sharing life with one another . . . doing what they were created to do.

Until the enemy stalks, ready to pounce on one unaware.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. James 5:7

Then the birds retreat, leave my yard and take their beauty with them. They don’t return until the perceived threat is far away, until one or two show it is safe to feed.

We too have days we bask in the sunshine of God’s love and presence. We nourish our souls in His word, in praise and adoration, in silent moments of prayer. We exist alongside others, sharing, serving, loving, being our best selves. Being all we were created to become.

It would serve us well to remember that the enemy of our souls is always on the prowl, ready to pounce on one unaware.

Too often that means we retreat. We leave a place of service or ministry because it becomes hard and fraught with attacks. We wallow in self-pity because life is not as we expected. We quit. We run. We hide.

But resist the devil, stay firm in your faith . . . after you have suffered for a little, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. James 5:9-10

Disruptions do come. Ministry can be hard. Life is often fraught with struggles.

Yet none of those things change the call of our Lord to be in the world. To follow Jesus in obedience, not counting the cost. To stake our lives on the truth that God has always been the God of all grace, is carrying us, and will strengthen us for whatever lies ahead.