I lived for a short while in a full-sized trailer home out in the country. Not far out of town, it was bigger and quieter than the apartment that I had lived in before. It wasn’t without its quirks, however. Wolf spiders enjoyed making an appearance in the fall. Deep ruts appeared in my dirt driveway as snow and rain soaked the earth. On a rare occasion, the electricity decided to mysteriously say adios. I weathered all inconveniences valiantly, thinking I had managed the worst . . . until I was visited by a member of the rodent family.
I woke one morning to a disagreeable scent in my bathroom. I was puzzled, but in my haste to get to work, I could only grab the bathroom trash and dump it on my way out the door. I hoped it would solve the problem. When I arrived home, unfortunately, the scent was stronger than ever. I knew it was not my trash. I knew it was not the few cows grazing in the field. Without the culprit in view, I knew it was a dead mouse. Now to find it . . .
It didn’t take long. My bathroom held very few hiding places. I pulled out the bottom drawer of sink vanity and beheld a mouse’s worst nightmare. Apparently the Asian male who had lived in the trailer before me was paranoid of dust and mice. Masking tape covered the seams of the windows, and I had found at least two mouse traps when I moved in. This however, was a paranoia all its own. In the dark recess beneath the drawer, not one, not two, but three, mouse-murdering contraptions stared up at me. The traditional mouse trap was undisturbed. The yellow box of d-Con was slightly spilled. The sticky trap . . . well, there lay the rodent, a small gray mouse.
Of course, I thought it all perfectly disgusting. The more pressing question was a little more disturbing: how was I going to dispose of the creature? My first thought was to call my neighbor, a nice man from our church who I was sure wasn’t afraid of dead mice. He would probably solve the problem within seconds without me getting my hands dirty. Surely he would understand a single girl’s plight. What girl wasn’t intimidated by dead mice?
Something within me, though, wasn’t satisfied with the decision. I had my pride. I was a big girl, an adult no less. I’d been through worse in life. I could do this!
Muttering an “oh, God, help me” prayer, I went to work. Big girl or not, I couldn’t muster enough bravery to stick my hand in the under-drawer depths and pull the mouse and sticky trap out. My creative brain took charge and I grabbed a plastic bag to serve as a glove. Then I employed my dust pan and a straightened wire hanger. With my hand safely protected and far, far away from the decay, I took the wire hanger and ingeniously shoved it into the sticky trap’s gooiness. Slowly I lifted the corpse and trap out of the drawer space . . . then, plop, I dropped it onto the dust pan. To the outside dumpster I went, holding the whole mess out at arm’s length. The mouse properly disposed of, I employed a can of Lysol to disinfect mouse’s tomb. No sentimental funeral needed. I was free of dead-mouse stench.
What did I learn from this experience? For one, I should always be aware that anything can happen out in the country. But most importantly, I learned an important Bible lesson: I was capable of doing more than I thought I could.
We are all hit with a variety of life’s challenges at one time or another. We think we we’ll never overcome a nagging habit. We believe a sour relationship issue is beyond our ability to resolve. We’re confident we’ll never pass a class at school. We can’t see ourselves changing our lifestyle for the better. When thoughts and beliefs such as these shout our failure, it’s important to refocus on the truth: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Notice that this verse doesn’t put a period after “I can do all things.” The truth is that we can’t tackle any of these challenges on our own and expect to come out the victor. Effort on our part alone can result in further frustration when we see we’re not making progress. Even worse is when we fail . . . again.
That’s why the verse continues with “through Christ who strengthens me.” It’s not our own strength that makes victory possible. We’re weak, unwise, and generally clueless without our Maker’s assistance. He has all the power – physical, mental, and emotional – that we need to overcome. When we’re weak, He’s strong. When we’re unwise, He’s Wisdom itself. When we’re baffled, He’s there to bring clarity. His only requirement for us to receive His counsel and strength is that we humble ourselves, admitting we can’t do it alone (I Peter 5:6). Then we can come boldly to Him for His grace to help in our need.
“Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
When we choose to “come boldly,” stumbling blocks disappear. Gone is the frustration over our inabilities and weaknesses. Gone is the pride that held God’s help at arm’s length. We’re finally free to be confident in our ability to reign, not in our own strength, but in God’s. Suddenly, we realize that mouse in the house isn’t there to conquer us; it’s there to be conquered!