Almost every morning, our cat, Bandit, brings a “gift” to our doorstep. A friend of ours calls it “paying the rent” and that’s a cute way to think of it, but no matter how adorably we describe it, the fact remains – Bandit is depositing dead rodents at our door.
We live in the country and I am a country girl, but that doesn’t mean I don’t squeal with disgust when I see those little bodies on my welcome mat. Our house is surrounded by fields and we live on a gravel road, so little pests are bound to happen in such an environment. My discomfort stems from this: I know they’re out there, but I don’t want to see them.
I do this in more ways than simply with dead mice, though. I flip the channel or turn the radio off when bad news comes on. Some of this is a coping mechanism against the evil in the world, which might be necessary occasionally. But there’s somewhere else that I’d rather not see bad news: my own heart.
I gloss over my failures and I make excuses for meanness and impatience. I tell myself that it’s OK to “slip up” with my words while forgetting that “out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks”. (Luke 6:45, Matthew 12:34)
Like the little mice running at night in the grass outside our house, my sin is also not very noticeable until I look with the help of the Holy Spirit.
He, like our faithful cat, pulls my sin out from the darkness, convicting me and bringing painful awareness of my own brokenness to mind. Without Bandit’s skillful hunting, we would never see the mice until they started to run through our kitchen – even then we might miss it for some time, while we placidly sleep on.
But Bandit keeps them at bay, getting rid of a small problem outside before it becomes a large one in our home. I hate to see the little mice bodies on our doorstep, just as I hate to be reminded of my sin, but I remember Jesus’ words:
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” (Luke 8:16-18, ESV)
Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
So this week I’m going to thank God for Bandit the cat and the mice on our welcome mat. They serve as a very real reminder that just because I can’t see (or avoid looking at) the unsavory things in my heart, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’m going to ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, so that I not make excuses for my bad behavior, but I root out the pests in my life before they become a problem.
Just as no one wants a mice-infested house, I don’t want a selfish, impatient, sin-infested heart.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV