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  • Sarah Raad

Rats

The antidote to the poison of sin is the infinite loving mercy of God…

The Garden Before the Fall of Man (Rubens)

The neighbours who live in the house behind our house keep chickens, and though there are many benefits to having fresh eggs available each day, and harvesting your own produce, a chicken coop brings rats!


You see, rats eat the same food as chickens – scraps of whatever food you have from that day – and chickens are messy eaters, so there is always a bit of food left over in the chicken coop. And rats are also big fans of chicken eggs and having chicken eggs lying around a coop is a perfect drawcard for rats, who see the coop as a sort of utopian restaurant serving the perfect meal.


Because of these factors, and the fact that the neighbour’s chicken coop is positioned directly against our back fence, we have from time to time seen the odd rat wander under the fence and into our back yard. And because he is married to a crazy lady who has been socially – though unintentionally – conditioned by her mother to be terrified of rats, my husband always has a bit of rat bait ready to put out when we see the odd rodent scurrying through our backyard.


One morning in January this year, one of my children thought they had spotted a rat in the backyard. Responding to his wife’s frantic panic, my husband laid a bit of rat bait out before we each left for the day.


Later that afternoon, I returned home with the children earlier than my husband. Walking outside to check on the washing, I saw it. Lying there on the floor, obviously in agony and barely able to move – the rat… Clearly poisoned and dying.


Frantically I called my husband, who was thankfully close to home, and who was able to put the poor disgusting creature out of its misery. Those 5 minutes that we waited for him to get home were the longest five minutes of my life. Watching that rat suffer was a terrible and uncomfortable experience and yet I was completely paralysed to kill it – I just could not bring myself to do what needed to be done.


In his 1936 political essay, “Shooting an Elephant”, George Orwell wrote of the same discomfort when he watched the raging elephant that he had shot die slowly, “In the end I could not stand it any longer and went away.”

I was thinking about that poor old rat, and also that dying elephant the other day, and it suddenly occurred to me that we – humanity – are that rat! We took the poison when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We took the poison and we have Original Sin.

Before Original Sin we were like that rat, running around the chicken coop, eating scraps and chicken eggs and generally thinking that we had hit the jackpot in being born into the Garden of Eden. Life was perfect and innocent and there was no death, there was no suffering, and we could see God face to face.


Then – just as the poor old rat moved away from the comfort of the coop – we ate of the fruit of that tree… And everything changed.


Suddenly, just as the rat had done, we sought out something that would possibly be better than this paradise that we were in, rather than trusting in what we had and we – like the rat – had exposed ourselves to death.


Now we must die.


And just like that poor old rat, our death is slow and painful too.


It takes longer than five minutes for us to die – it takes our whole life, for we are dying from the moment we are conceived.


But we are lucky in a way, because although we are as unworthy of God as the rat was of me – perhaps more so – God, who loves us and pities us much more than I loved and pitied that poor old rat, though He like Orwell in “Shooting an Elephant” “cannot stand it” does not go away. Instead, my Beloved stands by and watches us.


But that is not all… God does not only watch and pity us – He ministers to us too…


He helps us.


Because though we ate of the poison through sin and will soon be dead – physically when we reach the end of our Earthly life and eternally through eternal damnation – God has the antidote…


And the antidote is unimaginably good because the antidote to the poison of sin is the infinite MERCY of God.


All we need to do, is look towards Him. That is all. He is standing there waiting for us – so that He can lead us Home…


All it will take is a look – and we, like that poor old rat, will be put out of our misery and brought to a home that is so much more than we could ever imagine…


We could be HOME…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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