Masked Bandits

I have all kinds of succulents and cacti growing on the steps and on our patio. But recently I dropped seeds into some extra little pots that I have—tomato currant, chili pequin, and sweet pepper.

The tiny plants had just started breaking through the dirt when we had another visit by some frequent, albeit not always welcome, guests.

Three young raccoons make a monthly visit, usually when the moon is full. They have a party on our patio. They look for the food they know we have—deer corn and protein and bird seed. They poke around my plants where water is pooled around the pots. And they just seem to hang out because they like it on the patio in the wee hours of the morning.

I know this because we have a ring camera and I’ve seen their dark forms lumbering about, the occasional beady eyes glinting in the camera.

I usually don’t mind. I’m just a bit more cautious about letting our small dog out into the back yard in the evening without first checking for these guests. They not only outnumber him, but outweigh him by at least 10 pounds. We’ve had to replace the deer feed storage bin with another bin having (supposedly) raccoon proof closures. The two five pound weights we placed on the top of the original bin didn’t deter the raccoons in the least. Provided a bit of challenge I suppose. In all their efforts, they eventually cracked the bin’s lid, hence the need for replacement.

Like I said, I usually don’t mind their visits. They’re kind of cute.

Until they’re not.

The little bandits knocked over my small pots, spilling dirt and damaging my tiny plants. After my tender efforts to grow them, I’m not sure if the plants will survive. I gently repotted each one and placed them on a tray in a less-raccoon-accessible location.

Isn’t that how life can be, though? We see God plant tiny seeds of faith and bring growth to the tender gardens of our human hearts. He tends our faith with love and grace and soon our hearts produce new fruit of trust, joy, peace.

Then in the night, the masked bandits come. Night thieves. Careless looters. They poke around, sniff around, and create turmoil and trouble where seeds of faith are growing. Maybe intentional, maybe not. But the damage is the same. A mess made, hearts breaking and spilling over with tears, maybe even faith damaged.

The bandits may come as the death of a loved one, illness, the loss of a job, a move, a friend’s betrayal, an accident, divorce, anything that rocks our world.

But God is there, scooping up the mess, comforting us in our grief and tears, and restoring our tender faith.

A few promises from Scripture to turn to when the bandits come:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

John 16:22

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Ephesians 3:16

Grace and Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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