Friday, December 7, 2007

I Smell a Rat

Hello my faithful friends,

I kid you not, we have a rat problem at our church. I've known it now for a few days. Two Sundays ago early in the morning when I was opening up the buildings I heard something scurrying around in the ceiling of the annex room. It sounded way bigger than a mouse but I didn't know what it was. Then this past Sunday I went in there and flipped on the lights and there was the hairy monster sitting there staring at me. He's a honkin big wharf rat with a body about 10 inches long and a tail about the same length. I quickly went looking for something to clobber him with, and when I came back he was still there, waiting for me, daring me to do anything. I took a swipe at him but missed, and he took off running and hid under a couch.

We've had traps out for him all this week but so far he has managed to steer clear of them. But I know the furry little bugger is still in there because he is leaving his "calling cards" all over the place. In one sense I feel sorry for him. It's cold and wet outside and here we have this cozy place out of the weather, with food for the taking. It's a great gig for a rat. But he is not welcome. We don't want him here, and are determined to get rid of him one way or the other. We can do it the easy way or the hard way, if you catch my drift; the choice is up to him.

Now for the spiritual part. In the Bible we are told to go and learn from the ant. And Jesus constantly told stories using ordinary things to teach eternal lessons. This morning I was thinking about that darned rat and realized that he is kind of a picture of sin in my life.

He showed up without being noticed at first. I don't know how he got in. There must be a gap somewhere, a hole where he gained access. That's how sin works too. We have gaps, unguarded places in our lives, where sin can get in and gain a foothold. We have to be careful, always vigilant, mindful that sin can get in through what seems like a very small opening.

He's dirty. Rats urinate constantly. They leave stinky little scent trails wherever they go. And they leave their little poop footballs all over the place. Sin is dirty too. The Bible speaks of sin in such terms as, "impurity, unrighteousness, iniquity, wickedness, and filthiness." Sin is ugly and nasty from where God sits. I think I need to begin taking it more seriously too.

Rats destroy whatever they get close to. This rat chewed and scratched his way into a closet where we keep foodstuffs. Everything will have to be washed and a lot of stuff will have to be thrown away. Sin is destructive too. It eats away at us from the inside, in the quiet and in the dark. It gnaws and chews and destroys whatever it gets close to. I think one of the reasons why God hates sin so much is that He knows how destructive it is in the lives of His children. Because He loves us so much, He hates anything that injures us in any way.

Rats are embarrassing too. I was reluctant at first to tell anyone about the problem. Last Sunday morning all through the adult Sunday School class I kept staring at the couch behind John Wold, the teacher. What neither he or his class knew was that the rat was under that couch, sitting there looking out at us with his little beady eyes. I'm just thankful he didn't scurry out and scare the bejeebers out of the little old ladies. But sin is also an embarrassment, or it should be. Unfortunately, many times Christians seem content to do nothing about sin in their lives, and even try to justify its presence, even though it always destroys stuff and leaves stink trails and poop balls.

The Bible says in Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people." Sin is a disgrace, it is an embarrassment, it is shameful. We need to see it that way so that we begin to develop an intolerance toward its presence in our lives. I'm embarrassed that we have a rat problem at our church. I don't want anybody to know about it. And I'm committed to root the nasty critter out of there, dead or alive. We need to have this same intolerant attitude toward sin in our lives.

Well, that's enough preaching.

Here's a little something that I thought was cute. I'm so glad that I was born into an English speaking family because I don't think I have enough brains to learn this stupid language the way immigrants do. Check this out.

The Wild and Wacky English Language

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox became oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice;
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are really square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea, not is it a pig.

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up while it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

Why is it that writers write, but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham?

Some more reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English:
The bandage was wound around the wound.
The farm was used to produce produce.
The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was a good time to present the present.
At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
I did not object to the object.
They were too close to the door to close it.
After seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Crazy about killin' rats,

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