Burning Down the House!

OK, I’ll admit it … I’m a sucker for strange stories. I’m simply fascinated by the fascinating tales that pop up in the media and make you say…whoa!

Like this one from New Mexico:

FT. SUMNER, N.M. – A mouse got its revenge against a homeowner who tried to dispose of it in a pile of burning leaves. The blazing creature ran back to the man's house and set it on fire.

Luciano Mares, 81, of Ft. Sumner said he caught the mouse in his house.

"I had some leaves burning outside, so I threw it in the fire," Mares said from a motel room Saturday.

Village Fire Chief Juan Chavez said the burning mouse ran to just beneath a window, and the flames spread up from there.

No one was hurt inside, but the home and everything in it was destroyed.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Like I said … whoa! This sounds like a perfect set up for a new Dr. Seuss story:

I saw a mouse
A mouse in my house!
He’s in my house … I’m not a liar
So I will light this mouse on fire
I took the mouse out of my house
With gas the mouse I did douse
And then threw match on tiny pest
So he could enter eternal rest
But to my shock he turned around
And now my house is burning down!
What’s the lesson that now we’ve learned?
Fry the mouse and you’ll get burned!

In point of fact and at the risk of being cheesy, I’d like to suggest that there is another lesson to be learned from this sad story, because it is a picture perfect metaphor of the demise of many believers.

Here’s how it goes:

A small sin creeps into our lives. How it got there is a bit unclear – maybe we left the door to our heart open at the wrong time, or maybe it just snuck in through some unprotected area of our soul. In any case, it’s there … and now it’s time to do something about it. At this point we have two choices: we can dispose of it properly, or we can play around and set up a potential return.

The wise choice is to dispose of it properly – i.e. agree with God that it is wrong, then forsake it. Here’s the way the Apostle Paul puts it:

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace. (Romans 6:12-14)

This is called getting the “mouse” out of the “house” in a permanent way. Unfortunately, many Christians choose to keep it around and hope it will just slowly fade away. That is precisely the time our sins become like an inferno rodent from hell, run back in our lives, and burn it down to the ground. Here’s the way the prophet Moses put it:

you may be sure that your sin will find you out… (Numbers 32:23)

It’s important that we see sin from the proper perspective. It’s not cute, it’s not cuddly, and it has infinitely more potential destructive power that you can possibly imagine. It creeps into our lives in sneaky and subtle ways, but don’t mistake how it enters with how you should get rid of it. Sinful attitudes and actions must be tracked down, trapped and terminated without mercy; otherwise the trapper will become the trapee.

So hopefully now the point is clear
Sin is here and sin is near
Catch it and kill it without hesitation
Or your life may resemble a conflagration

Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com Send feedback to lane@dare2share.org.