I would like to think that I’m “somewhat” courageous. What I mean by that is that when push comes to shove and it’s important, I find myself able to face almost any situation. Except when it comes to rats. Rats are definitely the exception to my courageous rule. I turn into a snivelling, weepy, terrified, damsel in distress when a rat is in the equation.
Many years ago, while traveling in Africa with our oldest son Tom, we stayed in a guesthouse. Now, guesthouses in Africa range from very nice to very dodgy. This one I’m talking about now was more in the “dodgy” description; in fact, we usually stayed in the “dodgy” places due to budget constraints and joked it made good storytelling which has turned out to be true. We had checked in (such as check in was in this place that was little more than an abandoned house at the farthest corner of a property) and were so tired from a day of driving down the mountains between Congo and Burundi that staying in a dodgy guesthouse was not an issue.
Sleep claimed us quickly and sometime in the middle of the night we woke with a fright when a rat fell from the rafters onto our bed and proceeded to run across the room. Everything happened so fast I didn’t have time to think or scream and just watched in terror as the creature scurried into the darkness. Thankfully Tom slept through the whole ordeal – and his 3 year old eyes were wide in amazement when we told him about it the next morning.
Since then, I have had several encounters with rats. Some have found their way into the houses where we have lived. Others we encountered at our church properties, airports, and hotels. These creatures are opportunistic, crawling into any space they find and eat whatever morsel they come across along their way.
For this reason, I don’t like areas of darkness or obscurity – there might be a rat in there! Fear of what “might” be hidden grips my mind and prevents me from exploring what might be an amazing space.
John 20:19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut…Jesus came and stood in the midst.”
Just as I have feared the invisible rat, there are times when invisible issues are troubling us. We’ve not seen what will happen but we live in fear of what “might” happen and all the doors of escape have been closed to us. The disciples had a similar experience when Jesus had been crucified. They had closed the doors of the house they were in “for fear of the Jews.” (John 20:20) Fear of what might happen or what seemed to be inevitable caused them to close the doors. They apparently had no hope of leaving the house unharmed. But God, in His great mercy, sent Jesus to stand among them – shut doors couldn’t keep Him from coming into their situation.
Psalm 139:7 NKJV “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”
In just a few days we will once again enter into a New Year and I wonder how many of us will allow the hidden rats, fear of the unknown, keep us from embracing all that God has prepared for us?