Like a Boy and His Rat

Tear stains on a Bible tell us that someone in grief fled to the God of all comfort.

Coffee stains on a Bible tell us that she sat with the Word over morning coffee—a date with God.

Rat-urine stains on a Bible tell us that . . .

Well, this is a story that tells how I find spiritual rest.


A fifth-grade boy arrived to Sunday School early, so we had time to chat.

“My rat peed on my Bible again,” he shared.

My first thought: Again? I imagined the scenario: he took the rat from its cage to play with and pet it. The rat, free to roam, then wandered onto the bookshelf and had an accident on the Bible.

Trying to be helpful, I suggested, “Maybe you shouldn’t let your rat on your Bible anymore.” (That just made sense to me.)

“Yeah, I guess I need to quit having quiet times with my rat.”

In my spirit, party-noisemakers rattled in loud celebration! Internal fireworks brought a joyful rush to my heart rate, for I thought not of the rank odor nor of the defaced, unsanitary reading material. I thought of the fact that this boy has quiet times! This boy feeds his hunger for God’s Word!

Rat urine on a Bible. I never knew the thought could thrill me so, but I was thrilled! That boy is well on his way, for even now he is getting to know God better through His Word.

(Don’t worry, he said the rat thing won’t happen again.)

I come to God every afternoon, sitting at His feet, eager for His Word in the Book open before me. This is how I find spiritual rest (just like the boy—minus the rat).


Fast-forward to several weeks later. I remembered this conversation again but this time wondered: What if this happened not with another person’s child in a church classroom, but with my own child in my own home? Would I have rejoiced?

I live with myself, and I know how it would have been. I would have been angry. I would have been annoyed at the mess. I would have been in a rage at the ruined Bible, the very special one that we presented to him upon entering first grade.

Thank God—truth hurts, but it also makes aware and, perhaps surprisingly, is another way to find rest for my soul. When I’m on the wrong path and God shows me the right one (and I follow), I go from inner tension and angst to peacefull stillness and rest. Obedience leads to rest.

Father, help me as I want to be the parent you want me to be. Help me rejoice in the blessings and to see the causes for celebration, even in the midst of ugly messes. Thank you for your mercy on me. Help me to see with Christlike vision.

And Father, thank You for the blessing of Your Word revealed to me, and for the fact that I can own and read the Bible openly and without fear. Thank you for the ways You give me rest.

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6 thoughts on “Like a Boy and His Rat

  1. Oh. I get your point. When it’s someone else’s child, I think it’s great they have quiet time with a rat. But if it were in MY house? Well, I need to rethink my attitudes. After years of housing gerbils, I guess I’m grown a little cynical.

    A beautiful illustration and I’ll let you step on my toes anytime for a good cause. :-)

  2. what a great story! Im trying to think how I would feel too, Monica. And you are right–the truth can be a powerful teacher. Still…who would have ever thought…

  3. Obedience leads to rest…. great food for thought. Love the rat story and the Bible, but I would have to examine my own reaction also.

  4. I’m also fascinated (in hindsight) by my reactions to the same actions in different settings. Consistency is hard. Parenting is hard. It sounds like you’re making great strides to be the parent God made you to be.

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