I’m doing battle with a squirrel, and I’m losing. I chase him out of the “squirrel proof” bird feeder and away from the mealworms, and he comes back. I even brought the seed and worms inside to keep him from eating them, and he actually sat on the ledge outside the window staring at me, taunting me, clearly irritated that I’d ruined his breakfast. He’s not afraid of me. I open the window 18 inches from where he’s gorging himself and he just looks at me, assessing my level of irritation to see if I’m just going to threaten him, or if there will actually be a chase involved.

The problem is, I don’t want to hurt him; I just want him to go away. I want to enjoy the birds, not chase squirrels. My intention to feed the birds and not to hurt squirrels is good, but good intentions are seldom enough. You have to actively defend and protect what is good from anything that threatens it.

Too often, our good intentions are ruined when we ignore or tolerate things that threaten them. We can’t just meander through life thinking happy thoughts, hoping for the best, and expect any progress. Good results don’t magically bloom from good intentions. Any good that you hope for or attempt will require follow through and intentional effort, strengthening and protecting what is good, actively separating it from what can corrupt or destroy it.

We have to be as diligent in separating ourselves from what is bad as we are in pursuing what is good. If I want to eat healthier, I not only have to eat more fruits and vegetables, I have to stop eating potato chips. Knowing that I need a stronger prayer life or a deeper understanding of God or even really wanting those is not enough. I have to actually dedicate time to make that a priority and set aside those things that distract me. So many in our culture believe a relationship with God matters. They want their weddings and funerals to be in a church, but too much of the rest of their lives are consumed by anything except the church. They want a strong marriage and children who are grounded in good morals…but their good intentions are not translating into actions that make those possible. We can’t continue to tolerate what separates us from God and expect that things will improve. We have to actively protect what is godly from all that calls us away from God.

As long as I just hope the squirrel won’t eat the birds’ food, he has hope that he can sneak in and gorge himself. As long as the people of God just hope that things will get better and the bad guys will just go away and Satan will just leave us alone, we will continue to suffer defeat.

Jer 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

“All your heart”. Not just good intentions and half-hearted efforts. My squirrel is not half-hearted; he is tenacious. Feeding the birds in my yard requires that I provide food and make sure the birds are the only ones who eat it. I need to stop chasing my squirrel and buy a better feeder. We need to stop chasing the things that distract us from God and start following Him with all our hearts…toward what is holy, away from what is not