Concealed in a cosy corner, she busily nibbled on a roasted coffee bean. A sudden noise and stream of light sent her dashing to the back of the drawer for safety, coffee break forgotten. I was not at all happy to glimpse the grey fur and discover the tiny droppings. That mouse and I have been waging war ever since, and I am sorry to say that she definitely has the upper hand. Conventional snapping mouse traps smeared with peanut butter are carefully licked clean, trap undisturbed. Never-fail Indonesian rat glue paper cannot hold this wily mouse. The live trap was activated from outside the trap instead of inside where the intruder would have been held prisoner. We even devised a bucket trap with a rag ramp leading up to the rim and an enticing banana slice on a thin styrofoam raft floating on four inches of water inside the bucket. Somehow that acrobatic rodent managed to retrieve the banana without falling in the water.
I talked to my ni-Vanuatu friend Matu about our mouse troubles. “That kind of mouse is really an evil spirit,” she told me soberly. “I don’t think so, Matu.” I replied, smug in my educated knowledge. “Spirit mice can’t leave droppings.” “That’s true,” she nodded thoughtfully, but her eyes betrayed that she wasn’t convinced. “But I think this kind of mouse can only be stopped by prayer,” she avowed.
How do you define reality? When a puzzling situation confronts you, what kind of steps do you take to solve the problem? Do you see reality in terms of scientific, explainable processes? When you are sick, do you go to google first to find out what webMD is saying about your set of symptoms? When a conflict arises at work, do you privately analyse the situation for a solution or lean on your favourite sympathetic shoulder for advice? Or is your personal interaction with spiritual reality so ingrained that you immediately default to prayer for a solution?
Every day reality is measured by more than what our senses perceive and what our logic concludes. Paul teaches the reality of spiritual causes in Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” He also touches on it in 2 Corinthians 10: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For theweapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” We know this applies to “spiritual” work, but do we truly believe these cosmic battles also are affecting our every day ho-hum struggles? Our thoughts need retraining to see life from a dynamic spiritual perspective. When we grasp this reality, our prayers will grow in vigour, and our eyes will be opened to spiritual realities like when Elisha’s servant saw the chariots of fire surrounding him. And we will know that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). In our secular, common sense mindset we have somehow lost the mystical reality of life in the spiritual realm.
Now I haven’t prayed that mouse away yet, or thrown away my other traps, but I have added prayer to my arsenal of weapons against him, thanks to Matu’s gentle persistence. Let us be “strong IN THE LORD and in the power of HIS might”—even when the problem is only the size of a mouse.