Lions, Tigers, Rats and Mice

Just recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what really draws me away from God. I realised something in my musings. The big stuff generally pushes me to Him. When I see a lion I know I’m in danger, so I turn to the One who can shield me from it.

Not so with the little things.

I try to sort out the little things myself. It rarely turns out well.

Jesus said much the same. He looked at the priests and leaders of the people weighing them down with unmanageable burdens. Spiritually they gave a thousand pebbles to every person and told them to start juggling. If one pebble dropped, then go to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect 200 talents.

Jesus cut through that, and completed it. Not only by not dropping the pebbles they allocated Him, but by collecting ours as well.

I was reading one of my favourite books last night. “Six Hours One Friday” by Max Lucado. I have such respect for this man. His writing has inspired me for 20 years. I’m on my third copy of this book, having read the first two so many times they fell apart. His writings tug my heart 20 years after I first came across them. I heard Mike Yaconelli read a part of this very book at Greenbelt in 1991. The illustration of Jesus arranging to have his hands nailed open to prove he would always accept us haunts me and inspires me.

Re-reading it, I was struck by what draws me away. The little things. Rats and mice. Non-essentials. Wind and waves.

I remember seeing a painting of Jesus walking on the water when I was young. Just taking a stroll across the Sea of Galilee. It only hit me recently that the painting was wrong. In the painting the sea was a flat calm. Jesus walked through the storm to the sinking boat. Peter got out and walked through the storm until he realised what he was doing. But he couldn’t walk on a flat, calm sea. The wind and waves were incedental.

Rats and mice scavenge. At first you don’t notice the nibbles, then one day you realise how much has gone. In one of the “Death Wish” movies from the 1980’s, Charles Bronson’s character likens the local villains to cockroaches, pointing out that once you start, you need to wipe them out completely or they come back. Jesus said the same of demons. They are insidious. Apparently in a major city you will never be more than 2 meters (6 feet) horizontally from a rat or mouse, yet we rarely see them.

I became aware I had a mouse in my study a few years ago when I heard it’s rustling behind my bookshelf. The alarming thing was less the presence of the rodent, and more the fact that it had built an entire nest there, using my own books and papers as nesting material. Insidious. Naturally, I took the necessary measures to dispose of it. I let Sam, my insane 3-legged dog, into the room. 10 minutes later, no more mouse and one very proud dog!

In this instance, Sam represents Jesus to me. I couldn’t find the mouse. It was destroying my things a little at a time, and I let it happen. Sam hunted it out once I invited him to, and that mouse will never be back. Jesus has done that for us. He presents himself to us and awaits our permission to take care of the situation. We tend to let Him deal with the big issues, or we pretend to. Trust is built on foundations. To really fight the lions, tigers, bears and Goliaths in our lives on a spiritual level we must start by battling mice. Before Cancer hits, we should trust implicitly for acne. Before acne, trust for something smaller. Once the foundation is strong, the trust comes naturally.

My resolve continues. I still face battles, but one at a time, and my heart is fixed. No matter what, I will serve Jesus with all I am, and all I have.

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