Beware, Little Mouse!


It was so dark that when I reached for my torch (flashlight), the Zimbabwean night had enveloped every feature of the room into obscurity. However, the darkness had not hindered my sense of hearing, but rather heightened it. It took me a few failed attempts to take hold of the torch to see what had roused me from a middle of the night’s sleep in the girls’ dorm room at Morning Star Farm in Zimbabwe.

There was something scurrying and scraping near my bed. The scampering sounds had roused me and unsettled me. Our family was housed in this space for the duration of our ministry trip. However, both John and Micah were away for the weekend. Jake and Caleb were fast asleep in their bunk beds; unaware that a nocturnal creature had ventured inside for some kind of evening treat.

I switched on my flash light and pointed it in the direction of the noise.

The bright light stopped the creature in its tracks. The scampering ceased. I kept the flash light on and began to flitter the waves of light all around the room. And then, I saw it. The motion of light had flushed the creature from its hiding place. A mid-sized brown mouse appeared from beneath the nightstand – just a foot from my bed. It zipped across the floor. Then, in a flash, the noisy, little intruder escaped through a hole in the shower wall and was gone.

I breathed a sigh of relief. My heart beat returned to normal. I switched off my flashlight and rolled over in bed to try to go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, any sort of sleep I envisioned for myself that night was terribly short-lived. Four different times that little mouse returned to the girls’ dorm room in search of something to eat. However, its scavenging efforts would prove to be futile. He was a noisy, little marauder though. And since my sensory nerves were on alert, I was determined to protect my children’s sleep and keep that mouse at bay.

Time after time, that mouse lurched beneath the night stand. And time after time, I reminded the little intruder that he was not welcome. Time after time, I sent warning signals to the little guy. He did not belong in a girls’ dorm room. By 5:00 am, as the morning light began to filter into the room, the mouse gave up his scrappy quest. His efforts had failed that night. Why? Because there was nothing for him to scavenge in the girls’ dorm room. This was not the place for him to meet his needs. I prayed he would forage elsewhere for his dietary requirements and choose not to make another appearance.

No such luck.

The determined scavenger returned the next night. We engaged in a battle of will once again. I saw him and I am certain he saw me. He was determined to stay and I was determined that he should seek his bounty elsewhere. Unfortunately, as the battle ensued, Jake and Caleb both woke up to hear and witness the little forager run about the room. Sadly, my combative efforts served only as a cautionary threat. To thwart this mouse, we needed more decisive action. The mouse was not getting the message that he was not welcome. For if this mouse continued on this path of behavior, its hours were numbered. John would be returning the following day.  And John would settle the score once and for all with any four-legged creature that would dare to disturb his family’s peaceful sleep.

When John returned home, true to my expectations, a mouse trap was set on the third night.

Within hours, the doomed little mouse lay dead. Its calamitous persistence had proven to be its downfall.

As I have reflected upon the determined but futile efforts of the little mouse, these words keep coming to mind:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. New International Version, Proverbs 27:12

Time after time, the little mouse ignored the danger signs and continued forward in its quest for food. I am not sure why it kept returning as there was no food available for him in that room – especially where he set his sights over and over and over again. His efforts were misdirected and led to nothing of merit.

I’ve done the same thing, though.

I have set my hope on some thing or some one and kept expecting something to work out for my benefit. I continued forward with blind determination. I either ignored or did not recognize the danger signs. As a result, I suffered pain and loss due to my lack of prudence – just like that little mouse in the girls’ dorm room. It was all to my detriment.

I would like to say that I learned from such folly. However, I must confess that there have been situations where I have made the same error in judgment over and over and over again. There have always been warning signals though. The cautionary flashes of light into my life have come through higgly-wiggly feelings in my gut, premonition, bible verses, and words of counsel from family and friends. Like I said, I wish I would have taken heed more often than not. The problem is that I have seen something I wanted and chosen to go after it – despite the fact that this thing or this person may not have been in my best interests. Or ultimately, what my God desires for me in His plans and purposes for my life.

Is it just me, or have you had a similar situation in your life? Perhaps you can relate with the little mouse or with me, even now?

Are you headed in a dangerous direction?

Are you setting your sights on something that has the potential to hurt you or some one you love?

Are you making choices that harm your body, heart, and soul?

Are you under the influence of something or some one that is separating you from those who love you unconditionally?

Are you making the same mistake again and again and failing to learn and apply the lessons you are offered?

Are you returning to a person or to a situation over and over and over again that ultimately could lead to your downfall and destruction?

Are you about to make a critical decision that may impact your life in a significant way?

Are you discontent with your life?

Is it time to move on to new and better-for-you foraging grounds? Or is it better to stay put and remain where you are for the time being?

Friends, beware.

Remember the fate of the little mouse in the girls’ dorm room. He was warned again and again and again to move on to another foraging ground. Unfortunately, the mouse ignored every danger sign and pushed past every obstacle to seek something he thought was there, but wasn’t.

Friends, I beseech you.

Please don’t be like the little mouse. Don’t ignore the danger signals in your attempt to seek something that you want – that isn’t there for you – at all!

Be prudent.

Be wise.

Take refuge.

Cease your futile and simple pursuits.

Be content.

The word of God is clear. Suffering will ultimately result – perhaps not in a day’s time, or in a month’s time, or even in a year’s time. However, if we are pursuing a dream, a goal, a person, or a way of life that are not in our best interests, and against the will of our God, we will suffer harm. And unfortunately, our self-centered efforts may cause unintentional harm to those we love as well.

I know. I’ve done it. I’ve behaved just like the little mouse in search of something futile in a place I never belonged in the first place. Hopefully, though, I am learning to be more prudent now. I take refuge when the way is not clear. I seek the counsel of others. I wait upon my God for His answer and His direction. I seek the contentment and peace that are offered to me through Jesus Christ.

I pray you are too!

Because I don’t want any of you to find yourself in a situation when the warning signals stop flashing and you step into a situation from which there is no return.

Take heed!

And please remember the example of the dead, little mouse in Zimbabwe who surely could have benefited from these words:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. New International Version, Proverbs 27:12

 Mouse photo from “To A Mouse”

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