Several years ago, while driving home on a back-country road, a little brown squirrel ran across the street just as I came around a curve. I dodged to try and miss the little guy, but after hearing a light thump, I suspected he was a goner. Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw his little furry body lying lifeless on the side of the road. The kids felt me swerve and ask what happened; I told them that I accidentally hit a squirrel.
My daughter, Amaya, was especially concerned about this incident. She was a toddler at the time and had trouble pronouncing the letter “r.” Although her enunciation was adorable, words like “world” and “girl” were hard for her to say. Yet that didn’t keep her from making it known to all of us that she was “vewy” concerned for the little “squiwwel.”
For some reason, I thought this occasion might make a good teaching moment. So, I turned the car around, drove back, and pulled over to the side of the road to pay our respects. The kids and I got out and walked over to the motionless little fella—he could’ve been a girl, but that would’ve upset Amaya even more, so we assumed it was a boy. Anyway, I decided to say a few words to make them feel better about the situation.
As I looked down, I wasn’t sure if the squirrel was dead or not, as his body was still twitching. I figured that it must’ve been postmortem muscle spasms. So, we began Rocky’s funeral—yes, I named him Rocky on the spot. I propped his tiny head up with my shoe to see his little face. For the kids’ sake, I thought, “If he is alive, I’ll say a prayer for him to recover.” So, we joined hands, and I led in prayer.
Upon saying, “Amen,” that tiny squirrel opened his eyes, looked straight up at us, shook his head like he was waking up from a long nap, and darted across the road into the woods. Jake shouted, “Daddy, daddy, your prayer worked!” Amaya cheered, “Yay for Wocky the Squiwwel!” Heather watched from the car in disbelief. That little incident made quite an impression on my kids. The following Sunday at church, I included the story of the resurrected squirrel in my sermon. Everyone loved it, especially the kids.
A few months later, one night around 9:00 p.m., there was a knock on the door of the parsonage. It was two teenage brothers from our church’s youth group. I could tell they were distraught. The older brother explained that he accidentally hit a rabbit while driving home from basketball practice. The boys remembered my story from church about the squirrel and wanted to know if I would pray for the rabbit. I thought, “why not?”
I didn’t realize they had Mr. Cottontail in an Adidas shoebox in the backseat of the car. So, they retrieved the bunny, and right there on my front porch, we held a memorial service of sorts. I prayed that if the little rabbit had any life left in him at all, the Lord would resuscitate him. Once I finished praying, well, the bunny was still dead. Then the boys thanked me and went on their way.
The next Sunday at church, the younger brother ran up to me and said, “Preacher, preacher, the prayer worked!” After arriving home, he said they left the rabbit in the shoebox on the front porch, and when they woke up the next morning, he was gone. After the service, their father informed me that he swept up the rabbit’s remains before the boys got up that morning. He didn’t have the heart to tell his youngest son, but unfortunately, Mr. Cottontail became a late-night for a hungry passerby.
And that, my friends, is the legend of the resurrected squirrel. The moral of the tale is quite simple: Resurrection stories always offer people hope. Resurrection stories help people imagine a future where death doesn’t get the final word. Resurrection stories inspire people to believe in life beyond the physical realm.
Throughout the pages of Scripture, we find account after account of God bringing dead things to life. In fact, the Bible is one big resurrection story. It is the ultimate story of new life. When we place our faith in Jesus, we can take hold of an eternal hope, which assures us the life we all long for actually begins when we die. Thus, I leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul, who says, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).