If there’s one thing I hate it’s bugs. I have an irrational fear and dislike of all bugs, everywhere. We’ve had a bit of a reprieve from those nasty creatures for a few months, but with winters end they are slowly returning. I’ve been so caught up on the issue of bugs that I hadn’t even considered a second dislike of mine, until it suddenly crept it’s way into my house – critters.
A few nights ago, my husband woke me up from a dead sleep asking, “what is that sound?” I couldn’t hear anything so I shushed him back to sleep. Perhaps a half hour later, I heard it – the scritchy scratchy of a mouse inside the walls of our home. Our safe house, which I believed to be a safe haven was suddenly a terrifying place to be.
When you grow up in the city, there aren’t many bugs. At least, there aren’t such a wide assortment as there seem to be where I live now. And I never saw a mouse in the city. In fact, I never even considered that mice could and would sneak into a house for warmth and food. Until it happened, the first time. My parents moved from a bustling city to a house in the country, and a year or so after we moved in my Mom noticed a half eaten apple in the pantry. She was about to interrogate us to uncover who’d left half an apple in the bushel when she saw the telltale sign. Little mouse droppings to the side of the half eaten apple. He was possibly the tidiest mouse ever to have lived, and certainly the cutest. My Mom set the traps and caught the sweetest, fluffiest and tiniest mouse I ever did see.
And then I promptly forgot about the house mouse. Until my ears reminded me and it suddenly dawned on me that I was now the Mom and it was my turn to take care of things. Catching a mouse in your walls is no easy task, however. And we still haven’t caught it. But in the few days it’s been here, it’s taught me a few things.
Purpose- this mouse is on a mission. He’s hungry. Since I don’t make it a habit of storing food inside my walls, he’s on the hunt for something to munch. When I hear him in our bedroom, I can hear the crunching sound of those sharp teeth gnawing on something. I pray it’s wood and nothing electrical that will cost oodles to repair. But this house mouse is definitely into something. Every crunch strikes fear into my heart.
But then I have to wonder, when was the last time I was that hungry for something? When was the last time I was so hungry for God? As I was flipping through my Bible this week, I stumbled across a verse that stuck with me.
When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Jeremiah 15:16
The word devoured leapt off the page. Devouring something is to eat it up hungrily. Typically, when someone uses the word they’re speaking of a time they ate out of true hunger. I’ve also heard the word used in terms of eating something out of sheer delight and enjoyment, such as a slice of delicious chocolate cake.
Reading the word in this context within Scripture gave me fresh eyes to understand. It placed a longing within me to desire to read the words with a sense of desperation. Not just to read them, but to delight in them as well. To experience joy in my identity as a daughter of the King, and to purposefully seek out His words, just as my house mouse sought out a source of food.
Another thing this mouse has taught me is persistence – no matter what we do, we can’t scare it off. When we hear the annoying sounds of it crunching on unknown substances, or skittering its way from one place to the next we will bang on the wall and make lots of noise in efforts to terrify it away. While we may deter it momentarily, it always returns.
If only I was as persistant as the mouse when it comes to sharing the gospel with other people. There are several times I have attempted to share what was on my heart, then been completely shut down so I just left it.
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” Matthew 16:15-16
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God called us all to action. I know I am a bit too much of a people pleaser, so I often will do what I can to make someone feel comfortable. If sharing the gospel with them makes them uncomfortable, I may just leave it on the back burner. But we need to be persistent in sharing the gospel with others, no matter what the cost.
It wasn’t too long before we realized that our house mouse was actually a house rat. Somehow it all came crashing down around me and I panicked. I couldn’t sleep well. I still can’t, knowing it’s somewhere in my house lurking. I feared going anywhere downstairs without someone with me, even my children. (Really, what good could they do to protect me from the rodent? They’d be screaming right along with me!) Fear gripped my heart as I heard it banging around in the walls. I’m so afraid of it, I don’t want to be alone at home knowing it’s there. I am a slave to fear.
But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what He has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 56:3-4
What can a mere rat do to me? I don’t know what I am afraid of. I am bigger than it is. Just like God is bigger than any fear I may have surrounding it. The other night, the rat was in our bedroom. It was behind the wall, doing its thing. It’s hard to catch something when it is in the wall. It sounded like it was doing somersaults right by my headboard. I screamed. My poor husband jolted upright in bed. He tried to scare it away. I’m not ashamed to admit that I started to whimper and told him I was scared. I am a city girl, y’all. This was never something I ever imagined would happen. My sweet husband, at a loss of what to do started to sing a song I have sung to my children time and time again. A Steve Green Hide ’em In Your Heart song, that basically takes this verse and puts it into a tune. Together we sang this song together, and when we were done – peace washed over us. We still heard the infernal banging of the rat in our wall – but we packed up our things and headed upstairs to sleep on the couch. Peacefully.
Early the next morning, we discovered that the rat had shredded up our laundry. I wasn’t so hung up about a dish towel. Or even some comfy bed sheets. But when I realized it had completely destroyed my favourite shirt, I was dismayed. That shirt was one that I loved – it made me feel pretty when I wore it. It was light and comfortable. It was perfect. And now it was ruined. I was aggravated, until I remembered…
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21
Of course it was just a shirt. But sometimes it’s the little annoyances in life like destroying your favourite shirt and losing sleep at night that make you realize your heart needs some rearranging. After all, a shirt can be easily replaced. And there is room for a nap in my day. But when I rank the loss of a shirt as being completely devastating, I need to remember that my treasure is in Him – not my possessions.
Still, the rat in my room and the destroyed shirt prompted me to call in an exterminator.We were not messing around with this rat business. There’s just something about a rat that means business. It was time to eradicate it from our walls forever. So the exterminator laid traps, and we wait. Waiting is hard – I still didn’t get to sleep well last night. But in my sleeplessness, I thought about what else we needed to eradicate in our lives. Essentially, we need to put away all things that are not good, and wholesome and pure.
But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:7-9
Exterminating sin from our lives is not an easy task. It keeps coming back, like the persistent rat. But the thing is – rats like to live in the dark. And as Christians, we walk in the light. Light exposes the darkness. When the exterminator came in, he shone a light in the suspected areas and exposed some things I’d rather I didn’t see. He knew where to lay his traps to catch that rat. When Christ is in us, His light exposes our sins – sometimes sins we’d rather we didn’t have to see.
But He is faithful to forgive our sins. We can’t do that on our own. Just like I couldn’t get rid of the rat on my own and had to call in someone who knew what they were doing, God knows what He is doing in my life. He exposes things. It took a rat for me to understand my heart and life needed some adjustments. Perhaps he sent the rat just for me.
It’s easy to get comfortable in the Christian lifestyle. To go to church every week. To support ministries we feel are important. To offer hospitality to people. That kind of life can be comfortable, but we aren’t called to be comfortable. We are called to be active. We are called to be participants. We are called to be holy, and blameless and pure.
I’m not there yet. I’m not even going to be there when we finally catch that rat. But I am going to try to be better – because this rat has shaken up something inside me. It has taught me a few things that I needed to be taught. And it has reminded me that I am actively being called right now to share the Good News to others. What are you actively being called to do?