Lessons from Rats

Yesterday when I got home from work, my daughter Anna came to the door to meet me. She was in tears. Her pet rats, Dawn and Midnight, had both died. There didn’t seem to be any reason for it. Needless to say, it was a very sad night at Pastor Dan’s house yesterday.

She had only gotten them a few weeks before. It is amazing how quickly we can grow love for pets—even for rats.

But there was a deep lesson here. Life is fleeting. While Anna should have enjoyed several years with Dawn and Midnight, she did not even get near that time. What is true in the case of Anna’s rats is true with people too. We hope that we will live a long and full life, and we hope the same for our loved ones. But the reality is, we really don’t know when our time on this earth will be done.

What I have been learning is that since we can’t know when that time will be when Jesus will call us home, we need to live with the expectation that our time, or the time of our loved ones could be anytime.

Now I am not talking about walking around being totally depressed or morbid or constantly worrying about what might happen. After all, Jesus said, who by worrying can add a single hour to their life?

What I am saying, is that I have been learning that when we have the attitude in the back of our mind that this might be the last time we will see our spouse, our child, or our friend, we tend to love them better. We tend to encourage them more. We criticize them less. And we are more willing to forgive and be gracious.

When we think like that, we tend to think less about ourselves and think more about the needs of others. We tend to let the small stuff that really doesn’t matter go by and spend our time on the things that count.

Don’t wait to forgive. Don’t wait to tell your husband or your wife that you love them. Don’t hang on to your anger. Be careful about what you say. Be thoughtful about what is really worth your time. Don’t think that “there is always tomorrow,” because one day, perhaps sooner than we might like to think, each of us has only a set number of days on this earth. Use them wisely so that when that day comes and you find yourself before your Father, you will hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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