Reading time: 3-4 minutes
We lived in an old farmhouse for twenty-five years. It was built in the I-Style of architecture that was common for country homes in the late 19th century and was around a hundred years old when we moved into it.
Upon arriving, we were counseled to get a cat because “all these old farmhouses have mice.” The person who told us this was trying to get rid of a litter of cats at the time. We took one. It ran off, She gave us another.
For 17 years, we had few problems with rodents; then the cat died. We saw firsthand the meaning of the adage, “When the cat’s away, the mice play.”
The mice played. I caught twenty mice a week in some seasons and could have taken more, had I baited more traps. But it wasn’t just the mice. We encountered two snakes, many salamanders, and bats – oh, the bats. We once had bats in our bedroom on three consecutive nights. There were so many behind the wall near the disused chimney that you could hear them squeaking.
We eventually hired an amazing pest control professional – I nicknamed him “The Batman” – to get rid of them. When he came to the door, I noticed he was missing a finger or two, which aroused my curiosity, but I was afraid to ask him how it happened. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.
I showed him around the exterior of the house and pointed out all the places where I thought the bats might gain entry. He dismissed my suggestions out of hand. In short order, he had identified and sealed all the real points of entry, except one. He left the bats an escape route through a one-way tunnel of sorts, which prevented them from gaining reentry. It was brilliant.
One year, toward the end of our time in that house, we had a red squirrel in our walls. Sitting at the desk in my study, I could hear it gnawing the wiring behind my paneled wall—or at least that is what I imagined it was doing when I heard that noise. I heard that noise every day.
I succeeded in trapping the squirrel once. Having sealed up the place where it was getting in, I released it from the cage. It was back in the house before I was. By the time I returned to my desk, it was again gnawing on the wiring.
After our success with The Batman, I called him to save us from the red squirrels. This time our hero was less optimistic. He trapped the squirrel and sealed the place where it was getting in, but he told me that he could put his hand through the sill plate, which connects the frame to the foundation, at almost any point around the house. Before he left, he warned me that the red squirrels would be back.
The foundation was strong, and we had tuckpointed where it was necessary. But the sill plate that rested on the foundation had rotted, allowing the critters into our home. The little devils could sneak in wherever there was a gap between the foundation and the frame.
Like houses, lives are also built on a foundation. According to St. Paul, Jesus is the foundation on which the lives of Christians (and the church they comprise) is built. That foundation is rock solid. There is no reason to worry that it will deteriorate or fail to provide support.
But the connection between the foundation and the lives that rise from it must be maintained. One way to do this is through scripture reading and prayer. I say “one way” because scripture and prayer work together in an integrated way that forms a seal between a person and God.
Where that seal is rotted and broken, the rodents and gnawers enter and destroy. Rather than sealing the connection, some people spend their lives trying to trap and remove the pests, which are back before they know what has happened. They must either seal their connection to the foundation or come to accept the presence of these pests as unavoidable.
(First published by Gannett.)