Don’t let the little demons sneak in

We lived in an old farmhouse for 25 years. It was built in the Style I of architecture which was common for country houses at the end of the 19th century and was about a hundred years old when we moved there.

Upon arriving we were advised to take a cat as “all these old farmhouses have mice”. The person who told us this was trying to get rid of a litter of cats at the time. We took one. He escaped. She gave us another one.

For 17 years we had few problems with rodents; then the cat died. We have seen with our own eyes the meaning of the saying “When the cat is not around, the mice are playing”.

The mice played. I caught 20 mice a week in certain seasons and could have caught more if I had baited more traps. But it wasn’t just the mice. We encountered two snakes, numerous salamanders and bats – oh, bats. Once we had bats in our room for three consecutive nights. There were so many behind the wall by the disused fireplace that you could hear them creaking.

We finally hired an amazing pest control professional – I nicknamed him “The Batman” – to get rid of it. When he came to the door, I noticed he was missing a finger or two, which piqued my curiosity, but I was afraid to ask him how it happened. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

I showed him around the exterior of the house and told him all the places I thought the bats might enter. He dismissed my suggestions out of hand. In no time, he had identified and sealed off all but one of the true entry points. He left the bats an escape route through a kind of one-way tunnel, which prevented them from re-entering. It was brilliant.

One year, towards the end of our stay in this house, we had a red squirrel in our walls. Sitting at the desk in my office, I could hear it chomping at the wiring behind my paneled wall – or at least that’s what I imagined it was doing when I heard that noise. I heard this noise every day.

I managed to trap the squirrel once. After sealing the place where he was entering, I released him from the cage. It was home before me. By the time I got back to my desk, he was chomping at the wiring again.

After our success with The Batman, I called him to save us from red squirrels. This time, our hero was less optimistic. He trapped the squirrel and sealed off the place he was entering, but he told me he could get his hand through the sill plate, which connects the frame to the foundation, at almost any point of the house. Before leaving, he warned me that the red squirrels would be back.

The foundation was solid, and we had retreated where necessary. But the sill plate that rested on the foundation had rotted, allowing critters to enter our house. The little devils could squeeze in wherever there was a gap between the foundation and the frame.

Like houses, lives are also built on a foundation. According to Saint Paul, Jesus is the foundation on which the life of Christians (and the church they make up) is built. This foundation is rock solid. There’s no reason to worry about it deteriorating or not providing support.

But the connection between the foundation and the lives that flow from it must be maintained. One way to do this is to read the scriptures and pray. I say “in a way” because scripture and prayer work together in an integrated way that forms a seal between a person and God.

Where that seal is rotten and broken, rodents and rodents enter and destroy. Rather than sealing the connection, some people spend their lives trying to trap and eliminate parasites, which return before they know what has happened. They must either seal their connection to the foundation or accept the presence of these pests as inevitable.

Shayne Looper is the pastor of Lockwood Community Church in Coldwater, MI. He blogs at www.shaynelooper.com.

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