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Animals can teach us profound spiritual lessons, as Patty Mondore discovered from a little chipmunk.

As my husband and I sat on the porch enjoying a lovely day, a little face peered at us through the porch screen. I whispered to my husband, “I think he’s trying to get your attention.”

Earlier, we’d seen the striped chipmunk foraging for seed under the bird feeder, and Bob, being a soft touch for wildlife, had gone out and set the feeder on the ground. Before he got back to the porch, the chipmunk discovered the bountiful feast, climbed in, and began stuffing himself. When he reached capacity, cheeks puffed with seeds, he scampered away to store his great spoils.

Assuming he’d satisfied his first customer, Bob went out and returned the feeder to the tree. As he reached the porch, however, the chipmunk arrived back to discover that the banquet had been removed.

This customer knew exactly where to register his complaint. He scampered up the porch steps, stood on his back feet, and peered up at my unwitting husband as if to say, “Please, sir, might I have more?”

Thus began Bob’s unique relationship with Hoover.

A new best friend

As soon as Bob saw the little creature’s longing face, he was motivated to action. He jumped up, grabbed the bag of seed, and ran out to reward his newfound friend generously for seeking him out. He poured a large handful of seeds on the picnic table, and the chipmunk jumped up and began scooping them into his mouth in a manner one could best describe as a vacuum cleaner. That’s how he earned the name Hoover. After he’d stuffed his cheeks to capacity, he hopped off the table and disappeared from sight.

Once again, we assumed he’d gotten his fill. Once again, we were mistaken. Within moments, Hoover was back to vacuum up what he hadn’t on the first trip. We discovered that no matter how much seed we set out, Hoover was up to the challenge and would make as many trips as needed to keep up with us. Each of his trips was to empty his cheeks, or as Bob put it, to “download” his supplies, into his burrow. Hoover was stocking up for a long winter.

In due time we could sit at the table while our little friend happily collected his food. One day Bob offered a peanut to Hoover. After carefully assessing the situation, he decided there was no danger in eating from his benefactor’s hand.

Eventually, he became so trusting that he climbed completely into Bob’s hand and contentedly dined while Bob gently stroked him. He would walk up Bob’s arm and look into his face with a “might-I-have-more?” expression. Whatever he was doing, when Bob saw Hoover bounding toward him, he’d stop everything to run for seed and peanuts.

Chipmunk grace

As I watched the two of them, a delightful picture came to mind. No, not just delightful; let’s call it “divine.” It was the picture of grace.

This little wild animal realized he could boldly venture up to a human for goodies. Hoover had figured out that Bob was the source of the seeds he desired. He then took a step of faith to see if Bob was also willing to share.

I thought of the Bible verse that tells us, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV).

Hoover was right about Bob: He certainly was a rewarder of chipmunks who sought him. God’s grace is just as readily available to us. We need only ask. In fact, if you think Bob’s joy in providing for a presumptuous chipmunk is something, the Bible says, “ ‘How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!’ ” (Matthew 7:11). If we find pleasure in giving gifts to presumptuous chipmunks, imagine how much more God delights in providing for our needs.

A lesson learned

Hoover had not done anything to earn Bob’s generous provision of goodies, nor had Bob asked for any payment. For that matter, just what kind of payment could a chipmunk possibly offer? Bob’s gifts were freely and joyfully given. His reward was in seeing Hoover come to trust him. Hoover came running to Bob with as much excitement as any chipmunk could exhibit. And while the other chipmunks continued to rummage around the bird feeder looking for fallen culls, Hoover came directly to the source. Hence, he was the only chipmunk who had his fill of a banquet, an unending feast that Bob so freely gave him.

Our heavenly Father desires that we, His beloved children, approach Him—the Source of all spiritual blessings—in much the same way.

Hoover taught me an amazing lesson in grace—or shall I say, a lesson in amazing grace? When I think of that little chipmunk bounding over to my adoring husband, I think of the words, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Someone Who cares

The God who formed the entire universe cares enough about every person that He will stop whatever He is doing when He hears us call. And while He wants to meet our physical needs, He longs to give us so much more.

Hoover will never be able to experience the joy of an intimate love relationship with Bob (though I probably wouldn’t mention that fact to Bob), but God created each of us for that very purpose. He longs for us to come bounding to Him so He can, in turn, pour His boundless grace and love on us.

And to think that I learned all this from a chipmunk!


by Patty Mondore
From the May 2007 Signs