Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Heart of the Violation

After yesterday's joy-filled post, today I was reminded of one of the annoying realities of the mission field.

Honestly, I feel violated. And it is because of something I let get out of hand.

I only knew of his presence because of the irritating sounds he made, not because I actually saw him. Sneaky fellow. I would wake up at night to hear his gnawing - directly under my bed. Attempting to shut him up so I could go back to sleep, I would shine the flashlight his direction or shake the bed to make him very aware of my presence. But, he was persistent and would generally just keep gnawing, gnawing.

Finally, I traced his hiding spot - a pink suitcase, in which I was storing mostly books and a few other odds and ends. The suitcase had been abandoned by a visitor several years ago, so I had been using it for storage. A broken zipper was the cause of it being left behind and it seems that fault had led to bigger problems.

Yesterday as I went looking for a textbook in said suitcase, I confirmed the hiding place of my unwelcome visitor, and not only that but what he had been doing there.

Making confetti. Or rather, making a nest. So, he was actually a "she." And she was a...rat.

The broken zipper was not a big enough entrance for mama, so she gnawed a bigger hole through the plastic and fabric of the suitcase's shell. She then took liberty to chew the edges of a number of my books and notebooks, as well asbookmarks, plastic bags, fabric and other assorted items being stored inside. Presumably all of the gnawing and shredding was to make a nice little nest for her little rodent brood.

All of the books are still readable, except for one novel that I wasn't particularly interested in. I guess she showed me her preference in reading material - devotionals and such. ; )

Those things not visibly chewed were soiled - yuck. This afternoon my stomach was turning as I carefully emptied the suitcase of its marred contents, wiping off each item and salvaging what was worth saving. Even after washing my hands multiple times, I feel dirty.

I am annoyed - at the rat. But I guess I really shouldn't be. She was doing her part in the cycle of life and though she had alerted me multiple times to her presence by her aggravating and persistent gnawing, I had ignored her and now was left with the pieces (literally) of her nocturnal maternal work. (Thankfully, there were no little rodents still hanging around as I cleaned out their "nest" today.)

Pests, including rats, lizards, bats, snakes and insects, are an everyday reality here on the missionfield. It seems we are always cleaning up their "messes." Unfortunately, we have had a growing problem with rats lately, ever since our cat "disappeared" last year. But the problem had not become personal until my stuff was "violated."

This whole "mess" reminds me of the "pests" of my heart. The sins or weaknesses that are obviously there, but I often choose to ignore them. "Pests" like anger, guilt, jealousy, ungratefulness, bitterness.

What seems hard for me to really get is that the longer I ignore these, the bigger the messes they create. And the more damage they do - some of it irreparable.

God has been reminding me of these heart "pests," especially as I have been listening to Andy Stanley's "Enemies of the Heart," an audiobook focusing on four deadly heart enemies - guilt, anger, greed and jealously. Yep, I admit it, they are there - in all of their ugliness. That also makes my stomach turn.

Rather than ending on a sad or discouraging note, let me just say Jesus is the Exterminator of all exterminators when it comes to sin, and He can restore, renew and heal what we thought was impossible.

We just have to let Him in and give Him time and space to do His transforming work in our hearts.

So, when the heart messes become too-long-ignored and overwhelming, turn to Jesus. Nothing is impossible with Him.

Image Source: Microsoft Office

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