I caught a most noble mouse the other day in a sticky-trap hidden under the radiator in my kitchen.
He reminded me of Reepicheep – the most valiant of all the Talking Beasts of Narnia, and the Chief Mouse…[who had] won undying glory in the Second Battle of Beruna (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).
This mouse, my mouse, back legs immobilized by the pad, had managed to drag himself and trap by his forepaws across the expanse of the kitchen. When I turned the light on that morning, he lifted up his tiny whiskered face and met my gaze with courageous defiance. He continued to struggle and squirm even as I carried him to the bathroom and, with some regret, tried to plunge him into a watery grave.
It didn’t end there.
Dark-eyed with fury, Mr. Mighty Mouse pawed and paddled to keep his snout afloat until, unable to take it anymore, I was forced to press him under with the butt of a candle. This battle left me disquieted, sad.
What price to pay for a pellet-free stovetop, a counter unsullied by mousy feet.
And yet, a lesson for us (for me, if I’m being honest here) in this time and season, this year of horrors and setbacks and pains. Has there ever been a time in recent history when not a one of us cannot claim some loss? To feel as if no matter how hard we grapple, we cannot free our legs from the snare, cannot run or breathe or swim?
It would be all-too-easy to allow ourselves to spiral into discouragement, anger, or blame. To not see this season as only that – a season, which, like others before it, will pass away.
King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes: To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
Tempting though it would be to assume the laughing-dancing-time will never come, are we not now in the perfect season to remember that other season, 2,000 years ago, when God, silent for half a millenia, determined that the fullness of time had come?
When startled shepherds quailed as glory descended humbly wrapped in a chubby-cheeked Kinsman-Redeemer?
All throughout the Old Testament, the message had resounded: The King is coming!
And all throughout the New, the Promise echoes: The King is coming!
The verb tense reflects an already-not yet-always. For a God who calls Himself I AM, it makes sense: I was. Now I am. Forever I will be.
This is really, really good news. We are not bound by time, because he is not bound by time. Yes, there are seasons that come and go, but the span, the measure of God’s kingdom will always be.
From the Old Testament, Jesus proclaimed through Isaiah : Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
From the New, Jesus announces his arrival in that same prophet’s words, adding: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.
God promised a Savior: He came. God promises a return: we wait.
Is He coming soon? Not even He knows, only the Father.
Today, however, right now, our season is changing. Past-dwelling should not be our practice.
To dwell means to think on, speak, or write at length on a particular subject, especially one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety or dissatisfaction. For many, this describes 2020 perfectly; for me, perhaps all of the last decade. But going there – remembering past pains, rehearsing wrongs, thinking up pithy retorts for old stings – what good is that? It only serves to anchor us in the long-wheeled ruts of regret and betrayal and shame.
The new-springing-thing is on its way! His kingdom is steadily advancing, taking ground, preparing for His return.
Reepicheep felt this as the Dawn Treader was pulled along in the current of Aslan’s eternal purpose.
Lewis writes: No one in that boat doubted that they were seeing beyond the End of the World.
“This,” said Reepicheep, “is where I go on alone.” …he bade them good-bye for their sakes; but he was quivering with happiness…my belief is that he came safe to Aslan’s country and is alive there to this day.
Reepicheep, noble mouse, does not die when his coracle vanishes into the waves. Nor will we, if we look to the One, born for a season, who opened the way for us, for our own eternal season that never ends.
Until then, we keep dragging that trap across the floor, keep looking defiantly into the face of our giant. Struggle. Swim.
The end is not the end; it is only the most glorious of beginnings.
My prayer for all of us this season is this:
Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! (Romans 15:13)