It’s an old adage in our family: when dad’s away, the rodents play. Without exaggeration, since Steve began going on ministry trips years ago leaving us to hold the fort, the rats and mice have always used the opportunity to their advantage at home. They must know that I don’t have my husband’s skill with a big stick and that I’m useless at effective traps. Take tonight, for example. My daughters and I were watching a movie together when we spied a little mouse creeping under the TV table. We shooed him back to his corner with some noise then fetched the trap. I temptingly plastered the peanut butter and banana on the tongue of the trap, set the spring and gently pushed it into place. In a relatively short time the small intruder scuttled out of hiding and discovered the loaded trap. While the girls and I watched from the lounge, he gingerly tasted a little of the creamy treat then gained the confidence to walk all over that trap. No snap, no squish—just a sweet protein snack for a hungry rodent. Argghh!
For months my two younger children have brought home reports of encounters with a scary white dog in the neighbourhood. Nothing has ever happened to them, but they felt that the dog was menacing them. Not wanting to over-react, I have urged them to be cautious and keep well away from him as they walk past his house on the way to school, but I have never sought out the owners to ask them to keep their dog contained. His stalking about the neighbourhood was a little bothersome but never harmful. However last night one of the girls from church was walking to our house for youth group when this very white dog suddenly attacked her. Ambushing her from behind, he grabbed at her thigh with his teeth then skulked away. The injured girl hightailed it to our place somewhat shaken, but very thankful that the dog only bit her through her shorts and not on her bare skin, leaving puncture wounds but not a gash. My children were right to be wary of that dog.
Two animals, two fables. Like that impudent mouse we play with temptation and sin though the stakes are high that one day the very trap where we love to play will be our end. In reality, no such gamble exists; it’s a certainty that we will one day pay for our foolishness. The only gamble is in the timing. But we are willing to suspend sober considerations and risk everything for instantaneous gratification. The second fable speaks of that occasional sense that something is not quite right in our life. Perhaps a friend has hinted at a weakness she has seen in us, or the Holy Spirit’s tender urgings have spoken to our soul, but we only skirt around the conviction instead of opening ourselves to God’s merciful scrutiny. Then one day the niggling trouble flares into a brutal strike, catching us when we are least on our guard. If only we had responded to the Spirit’s earlier proddings, the shock injury to others and to our relationship with God would have been averted. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3). May we humbly cast ourselves each moment on the mercy of Him “who is able to keep [us] from falling and present [us] faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).