One morning, I was woken up by a rustling sound. I was home alone at the time (as my husband was travelling). Startled and puzzled, I switched on the torch on my phone and warily walked towards where I thought the sound was coming from – the kitchen. Had someone broken into our apartment? Just as I switched on the light, a furry grey rat ran past me.
It was 6 in the morning and I wasn’t sure what to do. The rat seemed to have disappeared. I promptly informed my husband over the phone and he suggested I buy some rat "kill cakes" and place them around the house.
The day before I discovered the presence of the rat, I was praying to God for a miracle. I found myself begging God for something supernatural. As the day progressed, I began to see how this rat may just be the answer to my prayer. Let me explain.
When Kim suggested one word for 2016, I was going through a rough patch. So I chose the word “belong”. Regardless of faith, race or gender, human beings are constantly coalescing into groups. I had a growing feeling in 2015 that I wasn’t fitting into any group. I chose "belong", because I wanted more than anything to belong to God and to those He placed around me.
I had no idea how or where to begin -- so I just prayed and continued reading my Bible, hoping that God would do something! But when I saw the rat, I began to think of the many ways the entry of the rat into our home was symbolic of the entrance of sin into my own heart.
Here’s what this pesky rat taught me:
My heart is a storehouse
Much like my home, my heart too is a storehouse. Our little flat ends up becoming a go down for my husband’s office goods (products that he helps sell), on account of which there’s barely any space for us to keep our personal items. Our house stores a lot of articles in a small space, which means a lot of space is jammed with boxes and bags. Due to the mess in the house, this little rat had managed to sneak into the kitchen, behind the kitchen door, where we stored our plastic bags.
In the same way, my heart lets unnecessary things take up space over essential things. I allow my heart to store negative thoughts and feelings towards others, gradually. Till, one day, I realise a cramped corner of my heart is breeding sinful behaviour, just how the covers at the back of our kitchen door was a home for this rat.
My heart had become a storehouse of garbage
Funny enough, this is something a close friend told me a few days after I discovered the rat (she had no clue that there was a rat at home). She said that if you feed your heart garbage, it becomes a storehouse of garbage, welcoming to rats. As I saw this rat, I realised that I desperately needed to get rid of the plastic bags behind the kitchen door, and clear the spaces filled with boxes -- but I also realized that my heart had been welcoming garbage. By allowing sin to enter through gossip, negative thoughts, and unwarranted speculation, I had allowed my heart to become a storehouse of garbage.
My heart needs daily cleansing
With the rat, I had to buy a ratkill and place it all over the house. The rat died almost a week after I discovered it. I know this because it died as in the middle of the kitchen, and was discovered by my husband and me. My heart, on the other hand, is a breeding ground for sin every day and nothing but daily cleansing can keep sin from making a home there.
It finally dawned on me -- daily cleansing can only take place through daily repentance. Though the presence of sin will remain till Jesus returns, He has absolved the penalty and power of sin.
In the Bible I’ve read about Jesus’ tenderness, compassion, ability to heal and forgive, and experience a whole set of emotions and reactions. One thing I didn’t see is Jesus repenting, which was because there was no sin in Him. He was perfect, right? I stared at the Bible wondering, what does real repentance look like?
From my past experience I know what repentance is not – pretence. It isn’t pretending to be ok on the outside, while a rat gnaws on the inside; it is genuine heartfelt realisation that what was done/felt/thought/said disjointed me from God. Only Christ can join me back to the Father. True repentance reconciles me back to God, the Father, with a clean and pure heart.
I’ve come to realise that true repentance alone can bring about true belonging to God, and to those in Christ -- my fellow believers.
So as I start this year, my vision is to belong to God, and to the people He has placed in my life. I want to belong to God’s family. This means greater genuine repentance and patience as I wait for Jesus to remove the presence of sin. I don’t want to be fake repentance, nor do I want to ignore my sin.
The poison cakes took time kill the rat, but I am certain that it is dead. Jesus took three days to rise victorious over my sin, but I am certain that it is true -- lasting change guaranteed in my saviour.
When I get discouraged with the slow pace at which sin is being scrubbed off, and get sad when I see the filth in my heart, I remember something my pastor, Anand Mahadevan posted on Facebook –
“Grace may sometimes be slow to change us; but it is sure to change us. The law can work faster, but does not bring about true, deep and lasting change.”
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