In the Company of Rats

“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things, let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.”

(Psalm 107:43)

                                                                                      “Take your eye off the rat and look out the window!”

I hardly realized how vital that compelling phrase would be when it grabbed my attention a few weeks ago. As I sat in a packed conference in Palm Beach Gardens, my friend Julie Mullins shared her riveting adventure in Kenya and presented us with exquisite truth for today.

Before flying home, Julie and her husband Todd had joined an excursion to the Maasai Mara National Reserve to experience the thrilling African wildlife. Carrying binoculars and cameras, the team piled into a Jeep with high expectations of seeing the exotic animals firsthand. After observing antelopes and elephants moving across the landscape, wildebeests and zebras galloping nearby, and giraffes nibbling leaves from tree tops, they heard the announcement that lions were close. Could it be possible that they would actually witness these majestic beasts too?

The team unlatched the vehicle’s roof, hoisted it up on its hinges, stood to their feet, and craned their necks to see what would happen next. In an instant the tawny features and tousled mane came into close range. Before Julie had time to focus on the drama unfolding outside, a black, hairy creature dropped from the ceiling and scampered across her feet. She was horrified. Julie responded in the only rationale manner and screamed, “Rat! Rat!”

“Lower your voice,” the others scolded. “You’ll scare the lions away.”

Certain she would explode right inside that Jeep at the prospect of traveling alongside the disgusting rodent, she repeated in a panicked whisper, “Rat…rat…rat!”

No one heeded her cry. All eyes were riveted on the lions and nothing could distract them from the breathtaking sight. Julie hardly even glanced out the window. Her entire attention was consumed with that dreadful rat on the loose.

The point was not lost on her audience. Or, hopefully, on us right now in the swirling uncertainty of the coronavirus.

God is allowing us to draw close to him, to pause our activities, our meetings, and all our routines stuff to wonder what he might be teaching us in the middle of it all. Most especially in this season of drab and dreary, he promises to show up in brilliant color, and waits for us to recognize he is completely and securely by our side for the duration and beyond.

We might choose to only focus on the rat – this one stinking thing that we don’t know how to handle, this scary scenario we never anticipated. It consumes us, saps our energy, draws us into its messy melodramatic turbine, and we are undone. We forget to gaze at the grandeur of our God who roars for all of heaven and earth to take notice.

God is showing up right outside our window. If we would only get our eyes off that rat!

Elizabeth Karram Mitchell

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