Monday, January 18, 2010

Rats Are In My Cellar

How many times have you said something without thinking and wished you could take it back? How often do you lose your temper? Do you ever smile at someone and act friendly while thinking terrible thoughts about the person you are smiling at? Do you ever do something for someone just because you are looking for praise or a pat on the back?

Human nature stinks! I am probably more guilty than most. I have to be honest, I struggle with it.....especially when I am exhausted or have a long "to-do" list that seems insurmountable. During these times, I find I am not as good at "hiding" my true nature. As a result, the ugly side of me just pops out of nowhere, and I become the selfish, complaining, tempermental person I cannot stand and do not want to be. As Paul said so eloquently: "For I do not understand my own actions, I am baffled and bewildered. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe." (from the Amplified version of the Bible)

My favorite verse in the entire Bible is 2 Corinthians 3:18. It gives me hope.....hope that eventually I will become more like Jesus. With all of my heart, I want to be like Him, but it is a constant battle. My selfish nature gets involved and messes things up daily. In training the children when they were small to brush their teeth two times per day, I encouraged them by saying after doing it for 3 weeks, they will have formed a habit and wouldn't have to think about it anymore....brushing two times per day would become routine. It works. We have developed many good habits this way. I have often tried the same with my sin-nature, but with "not-so-good results". For instance, I will go several weeks with no harsh reactions to anyone, feeling certain I have conquered my temper only to blow it in a silly traffic jam. (Then I REALLY lose it!)

C.S. Lewis, in "Mere Christianity", says this:

"When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on his disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul........if what we are matters even more than what we do, if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence as what we are, then it follows that the change which I must undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too. How many of them were done for the right motive? How many for fear of public opinion or desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally have led to some very bad act? But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God."

This journey we are all on is not easy, but wouldn't you agree it is incredibly purposeful? Even though we have been created in God's image, does it cease to amaze you how different we are from His Holiness? 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds me that I am to strive to be like Him. Through Jesus, the Father has given me a real life example to follow.....and through His Word, He has given me His Law and shown me His Way. If, each day, I look toward Him and strive to follow His Way, then over time, His Word tells me I will be transformed. This requires such faith.

On the other side, the Father has accepted me, as imperfect as I am, because of the Son. When He looks at me, He only sees Jesus who has stepped in for me. Therefore, the relationship is reciprocal: Wearing my red cloak of sinful nature, I look toward a perfect Savior and work, through obedience, to make my life conform and mold to His image.....attempting at every turn to remove the cloak and tuck it away in a chest and have it locked much the same way, the Father looks toward me, but sees the Savior standing on my behalf. Instead of the red cloak of sin, He sees the blood of Jesus, covering me. Both sides are actively coming to Him.....and Him to me.

Again to quote C.S. Lewis:

"The Three-Personal God, so to speak, sees before Him in fact a self-centered, greedy, grumbling, rebellious human animal. But He says: "Let's pretend that this is not a mere creature, but our Son. It is like Christ in so far as it is a Man, for He became Man. Let us pretend that it is also like Him in Spirit. Let us treat it as if it were what in fact is is not." And God looks at us as if we are a little Christ.

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18


  1. This is Joyce. Thank you for sharing. I needed to read that today.

  2. you got my attention! We had Rats in our camper ..... what a nasty mess. Love what you had to share. thank you for being so open.