Beware the Small Openings!
God bless our neighbors to the west. Orkin (the pest removal company) has once again crowned Chicago with the dubious distinction of being the most rat-infested city in this country. For the eighth year in a row! “‘Each fall, mice and other rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes in the United States,’ Orkin says, in a press release. ‘They typically enter homes between October and February looking for food, water and shelter from the cold’” (www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/chicago-beats-out-new-york-to-earn-no-1-spot-on-list-of-rattiest-cities/2969714/).
According to Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department, the culprit varmint is the Norway rat. Wrap your mind around these factoids:
The name is rather misleading as this species originated in Asia centuries ago. The rat has an average life span of six to twelve months. Beginning at the age of two to three months, a female rat can produce four to seven litters per year with each litter containing eight to twelve pups. Females can become impregnated within 48 hours after giving birth. The number, size and survivability of litters produced depends upon the amount of food and shelter available. They prefer fresh food, but will eat many things such as pet food, dog feces, garbage and plants. If food is scarce, the strongest rats may even eat the weakest and young. Norway rats prefer to live in burrows in the ground. They are excellent climbers and swimmers and most active at night. They have very hard teeth and can chew through wood and plaster or any other material that is softer than their teeth. They can crawl through holes the size of a quarter, tread water for three days and land unharmed after a five-story fall (www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/streets/provdrs/rodent/svcs/rats_in_chicago.html).
Makes you want to stand up cheer for these hardy creatures, doesn’t it! But Chicago is not alone. “New York came in second behind Chicago, with Los Angeles finishing third, Washington, D.C. fourth and San Francisco ranked fifth. Two Indiana cities, South Bend and Fort Wayne, also made the list for the first time coming in at 44th and 48th respectively” (https://wgntv.com/news/wgn-news-now/chicago-is-rat-capital-of-u-s-for-8t...). Look out—they’re coming our way.
So what does rat infestation have to do with this beautiful fall life we’re experiencing these days? Beware the small openings!
Because it's the little holes, the tiny openings the enemy of our souls exploits and squeezes through. One of our senses left unguarded (be it an eye, an ear, a mouth [maybe not so small]) is all it takes for the Adversary to find direct entry to our very being.
Think about it: every addiction we suffer finds its first entrance through an unguarded sense—pornography (sight), food (smell and taste), lust (touch), gossip and tale-bearing (hearing), et al. Addiction is a single unwanted spirit vermin squeezing into our consciousness through a single unguarded sensory portal. Until eventually the whole house is infested!
No wonder this moral counsel: “All should guard the senses, lest Satan gain victory over them; for these are the avenues of the soul. You will have to become a faithful sentinel over your eyes, ears, and all your senses if you would control your mind and prevent vain and corrupt thoughts from staining your soul. The power of grace alone can accomplish this most desirable work” (Adventist Home 401).
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Because unguarded strength is a double weakness. Just look at Samson, the strongest of them all, felled by his unguarded, unregulated sensory appetite—a morality tale for us third millennials immersed, as we are, in a full-sensory but unguarded culture.
But there is help: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). What a promise! The peace of God Almighty Himself will guard my mind, will guard your heart from the enemy of our souls.
If you begin each day inside the quiet peace of God, communing with Him through His Word, you will go out to traverse this vermin-infested full-sensory culture, and remain unscathed and uncompromised by the enemy. Beware the small openings, by keeping your heart largely open to Christ alone.