We’ve begun a new year in the cold. To those of us who swelter most of the time, the cold weather is a brief, refreshing change. The cold allows the fruit trees to grow dormant and complete their cycles properly, it kills insects on the winter greens in the garden and reduces other pests that thrive outside in our climate. However, I’m terrified and disgusted by the tiny winter visitors that can slip in the smallest crack in my kitchen — mice. They can create such havoc in a short period of time. I’ve had them invade a loaf of bread on the counter overnight and leave a shredded mess in my cabinets. I have heard one munching surreptitiously in the space behind my appliances and watched one dart boldly across the room while my family sat watching television. Once after a Sunday night service, my husband put his bread in the toaster for a roast beef sandwich, only to electrocute a mouse feasting on the crumbs in the bottom. It was gross. This occasional winter visitation leaves me jittery and upset about the health and sanitation of my home. They are sneaky and fast The worst part of mouse patrol is finding a dead one to dispose of or having that lingering dead-mouse odor behind a partition where I can’t get him out.
Mice are like the pesky little spiritual issues in our lives– petty jealousies that keep us from getting to know others in our congregation, little resentments over old family misunderstandings that fester with the passing of years or even just a little laziness that keeps us from obeying that still small voice of the Holy Spirit when He prompts us to do some small kindness. These little things matter. Jesus had a lot to say in the book of Matthew about the little things: the speck in another’s person’s eye, the birds that our Heavenly Father feeds, a paltry pair of fish, even a grain of mustard seed. The Song of Songs says for us to “catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (2:15 NIV). While I can’t prevent mice from getting in occasionally, there are some preventive things I do to try to keep them out. I seal the cracks where they might slip by. I avoid holding doors open too much. I bait traps and check them often. In my spiritual life, I must also be vigilant to suit up in my spiritual armor so that I’m not easily offended. I must also remember not to take my brothers and sisters for granted. God put me in a community of believers to serve as much as to be served. We demonstrate Christ’s sacrificial love for us in the everyday, in the mundane, in the simplicity of what can be done now— a mug of coffee for the repairman, a note in the mailbox of a coworker, a smile in the checkout line, not rolling your eyes at your husband who asks you to go back to the store a second time for a need he failed to mention. Yes, God does lead us at times in big missions where it’s important to grasp the scope of the world’s needs. But how many little things along the way have we neglected that rob us of our testimony or cheat us out of a special joy in the day?
Oh Lord, open my eyes to today’s small preventive measures to keep my faith strong. Help me seize the little opportunities as well as the big ones to minister.
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