An interesting visitor comes to our Maple tree on a regular basis. His colorful feathers stand out in the drab winter landscape. His head and throat are bright red and are surrounded by black and white stripes. His back is a mottled black with markings of white. He gets his name, yellow-bellied sapsucker, from his dull yellowish belly. The sad part about our visitor is that he comes to drill holes in our tree. Over the years he has weakened the tree, and we see branches slowly dying from the impact of his feeding habits. He bores 1/8" holes into the cambium layer or inner bark of the tree, causing the sap to ooze out. With his long, brush-tipped tongue he laps up the sap. It is common for these birds to drill several holes in a perfect row around the trunk. Too much of this will kill the tree. The holes provide entry points for insects or diseases which also contribute to the weakening of the tree.
Once the yellow-bellied sapsucker discovers a good feeding spot, he returns to it again and again. In order to discourage these birds, one must wrap the tree trunk and larger branches with burlap, particularly where the first holes are drilled. This keeps the bird from reaching the sap in the tree. It is critical to stop the path of destruction before it goes too far.
We have an enemy who would like to destroy us. He comes to "drill holes" in our minds. He wants to destroy our clarity of thought. Frequently he comes as a whisperer to whisper an idea or bad thought into our minds. If he finds "fertile ground" he will return with more lies. It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for serpent is Nahash, which literally means whisperer. King Solomon, known for his wisdom, made an interesting observation in Proverbs 16:28. "A whisperer separates close friends." (ESV)
The serpent first appeared on the scene when he whispered into Eve's ear. He put thoughts that are counter to God's truth into her head. Once these thoughts prevailed, she sinned by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree and giving her husband some of it. Consequently, Adam and Eve died a spiritual death and became separated from God.
Just as burlap protects the bark of a tree from the yellow-bellied sapsucker, the Word of God protects our minds from our enemy--the one who whispers lies. We must not allow him to continue his litany of lies. Every whisper that turns into a thought must be taken captive so that it is obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Both King David, in Psalms, and King Solomon, in Proverbs, write that "Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." (Psalm 18:30/Proverbs 30:5)
Indeed, not only is God a shield, but He is our Redeemer. God sent His Son Jesus as a "second Adam" to restore and redeem us from the curse of the enemy. He came as the Living Word to bring light and life to us. John 1:12 tells us, "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Victory over the enemy is ours as we shut down the whispered lies by declaring the truth of our God and Savior.
Joan E. Mathias