Last Month (December 2014) there were several news reports of a woman in Florida whose house had been invaded by 300 rats (see here, for example). It all started in 2012, when her three pet rats escaped and began following the Old Testament command to “Be fruitful and multiply.” Now, several years later, these faithful little creatures had obediently multiplied into an estimated 300, all living under her roof. They were in every room of the house, in the cabinets, in every nook and cranny, and along with the rats came their smell, their droppings, and their damage. The woman said: "I didn't think of it as a big deal or a problem. I still don't, but it really got out of hand." Rescue workers were busy trying to trap all the rats (alive) so they could be placed in a good home.
Now I’m not against pet rats. They’re great company for people who want and love them. But like any pet, they need to be cared for properly. They need to have clear boundaries and appropriate limits. Let them run free and unchecked, and they will soon take over your home in very unhealthy ways.
And it seems to me that this is the case with many things in life. A lot of things are fine in controlled moderation, but let them run wild, and you’ve got a problem. There’s nothing wrong with eating, for example, but if you stop eating to live and start living to eat, you end up with some weighty problems. Any addiction can ruin your life. Candy is perfectly legal and cocaine very illegal, but both can kill you if you’re hooked on them.
Unchecked emotional and spiritual issues are frequently sources of danger. Infestations of anger, bitterness, envy, and a whole slew of inner pests have brought down many a strong person. Even human beings (including family and friends) may become so inappropriately demanding that they literally take over your life and drain you of your time and energy, eventually killing you with stress.
This is why I think it’s good to spend some time every year engaging in spiritual pest control. It’s good to look at the “rats” in our lives, identify the things that may be growing out of hand, and then act to bring those creatures back in check. Some need to be exterminated; some need to be controlled, and some just need to be placed within proper boundaries.
Frequently people do this at the beginning of every year with New Year’s Resolutions, and the entire season of Lent (this year starting on February 18th and leading to Easter) is traditionally a time for Christians to practiced inner spiritual fumigation. But whatever your excuse, I invite you to do a self-pest-control inspection.
Jesus told a parable about a foolish person who built a house on the sand. “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!" (Matthew 7:27 NRSV). The same thing happens in the end to the foolish person who doesn’t deal with termites, mold…and rats.
Yours in Christ;