Tickly feelings on my fingers awakened me from my snooze in the recliner. I opened my eyes to see beady eyes glaring up at me. It was a wee mouse scampering onto my hand.
In reflecting back, I’m less amazed by the little creature’s audacity than by my placid reaction. I didn’t freak out — or even flinch. Why not? It was the result of conditioning. The mouse’s appearance was not a surprise. I had seen it that morning in the bedroom. After a brief chase, it had disappeared. Thus, the mouse’s presence was fresh in my mind. Furthermore, last year, I had trained a chipmunk to walk up my leg and into my hand. This conditioned me to the sensation of little paws on my limbs.
I pause with questions for you: What are your present thoughts? Are you still processing my opening words? Are you still freaking out over this? I nudge you to press ahead with me. For now, we must think about God, Who keeps pressing us beyond such little episodes — as these words reveal:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:3-4 NLT)
Yes. Even unwelcome rodents can nudge us onward, building our endurance so that we won’t freak out or lose heart in future trials. Thus, formerly fretful ordeals become familiar, and easier to handle. It is said, “Do the thing you fear, and death of fear is certain.” Frankly, I’d rather trust God, not myself, to arrange “the thing you fear”. After all, that’s Jesus’ job as “the author and finisher of our faith”. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
God didn’t ordain the mouse event to be sensational clickbait for conversations. No. I must do what the mouse did: keep running past the traps! Press onward! Earlier that day, I was getting obsessed over a demeaning occurrence. The disturbing memory was becoming dangerous clickbait in my mind. Thankfully, God pushed me forward with better thoughts to ponder: the following words by the preacher, Charles Spurgeon.
To be laughed at is no great hardship to me… . Caricatures, lampoons, and slanders … in these I will rejoice. But that you [listeners] should turn from your own mercy, this is my sorrow. Spit on me, but oh, repent! Laugh at me: but oh, believe in my Master! Make my body as the dirt of the streets if you will: but damn not your own souls! Oh! Do not despise your own mercies. Put not away from you the gospel of Christ.(from “Paul’s Sermon before Felix”)
It is not the preaching, but the sighing over your souls that is the hard work … . ‘Tis the after-thought that will follow me when I descend these pulpit steps, that many of you, my hearers, will neglect this warning. You will go; you will walk into the street; you will joke … laugh … .
Indisputably such heartfelt utterances took shape through the conditioning benefit of “pesty” troubles. Spurgeon is an example of one who kept pressing onward in faith, hope, and love. Let us follow his example.
Prayer: Lord, whatever the means, free us from entrapping thoughts and memories. Replace them with thoughts that help us to press onward in faith, hope, and love. Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Diane Eaton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission