Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Of Mice and Women

Challenges for women come in many forms as life rolls along. Sometimes they come in the form of illness – the children, elderly parents, a spouse, you or even the pets can become ill and provide challenges for a woman. Sometimes, they come in the form of broken things – vehicles, appliances, toilets, the toy of a preschooler, the heart of a teenager or any other myriad of things can stop working as they were intended to function. Sometimes those challenges can come in the form of little furry rodents called mice.

When I first began to notice little holes in bags of food in my pantry, I wondered if I had picked up a damaged item at the grocery. Then I noticed the little holes had jagged edges to them and the food inside the bags also had little jagged pieces missing. Finally, I discovered little dark pellets around the pantry that let me know there were creatures having a party with my food every night and this time, they were not teenagers. Mice!

After cleaning and throwing away more food than I care to think about, I headed out to the store for some assistance. I bought what looked to be fairly humane traps that would allow for the capture and disposal of mice without me ever having to touch or see them. Carefully, I set the traps around, anxious to have my problems contained for easy disposal. But the mice who had decided to party in my pantry apparently snickered behind their little whiskers at my vain attempts, and the traps remained undisturbed – unlike the food in my pantry. I decided to replace the traps with packaged poison that was supposed to be very enticing to little rodents, but once again, my photo apparently ended up in the editorial section of “Mice Times” with the words “Who is she kidding?” under my picture. My poison packages remained untouched, but I lost another bag of hot dog buns. My father even gave me blocks of poison that had produced multiple dead rats around his bird feeders when he had a rodent problem, but every night the mice return to chew on the poison while none of them turn up dead, at least not in my house. They just keep coming back for the party.

So what is a woman to do? I am so glad that you asked.

I honestly believe my mice are very symptomatic of so many other large and small challenges in my life and the lives of many women. It really isn’t about the mice. It rarely is about whatever challenge life may deal us at even given moment. It is about my response.

This is typical of my process when things in life are a struggle, though the order of events changes depending on where my heart is resting at the time. I cry out to God, “Please deliver me!” I work very hard at finding my own answer. I look to see God bring deliverance. And here is the reality in my life – sometimes, deliverance from my challenge does not come.

So what does my response look like in those times? What if my challenge continues, sometimes even increasing in difficulty? Oh sweet sisters, I think so often God desires not to catch the mouse, but to calm the mouse catcher. How often does my Father long for me not to know deliverance, but instead to know my Deliverer? For in those days when I do not see deliverance from my challenge, I have an opportunity to know my Deliverer more deeply. To seek His face. To look for His strength. To depend on His love. To be the place where I take refuge.

He is my loving God and my fortress,
My stronghold and my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
Psalm 144:2 (NIV)

So what is your challenge today? What are the mice in your pantry? Do the heavens seem silent? Are you weary in waiting for deliverance? Stop. Breathe deeply. Know your Deliverer and take refuge in Him.