Monday, September 6, 2010
Leaving the rat life behind and swinging from the trees
"Is that a rat?" I asked. Alarmed that such a nefarious creature was within spitting distance of the house, we debated what to do. Bob worried if he put out a trap, he might catch the chipmunk, which although a nuisance, doesn't have the image problem the rat does.
Putting our hopes in the neighbor's cat, we kept a vigilant eye. Day after day, the rodent took its place with all the other creatures under the feeder. I have to admit, he behaved himself. Not a New York City sewer rat this one. He didn't rush around twitching his nose and gobbling all the food. He obeyed the bird feeder protocol.
"He's forgotten he's a rat," Bob said.
My assessment was far less generous. Regardless of its dining manners, it was still a rat. I wrote trap on my shopping list.
Later that day, I read an article about some other animals that seemed to be having an identity issue. The orangutans in a Dutch zoo had forgotten they were supposed to swing from trees. Apparently their initial enclosure had been too small for arboreal travel, and so they had gotten used to sitting on the ground. The zoo hired a gymnast to swing from the treetops in hopes of enticing the sedentary primates off their butts and into the trees of their new facility.
Prone to seeing (and stretching) analogies, I considered the implications in my own life. I am only too happy to forget I was once a rat, but now, thanks to the grace of God, I am a new creation. Still, it is easy to settle, to be satisfied with the tidbits I have. In doing so, I begin to forget who I am and what high treetops I am called to live in. I need the examples and encouragement of others to cheer and challenge me on to new heights, as I cheer and challenge those behind me, still sitting on the ground.
The apostle Paul said, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you." Phillippians 4:9