Mice and Men
Max was a black and white domesticated mouse. He came to live with me one October day when I was needing a mouse to use as a illustration for a kid’s Bible lesson I was going to teach at AWANA. This was the beginning of several valuable insights that Max taught me. For in observing a creature that at most weighs a couple of ounces and is viewed by most only as a pest I was brought to consider God’s grace toward us, who are also rather insignificant creatures.
On the afternoon I got Max, I made a quick trip to a pet shop and found a cage full of squirming lively mice. Upon paying my $1.79 for my mouse I was interested to note that printed on the receipt for this item were the words, “feeder mouse……..$1.79.” Wondering about just what a “feeder mouse” was I had some conversation with the pet shop people. It seems as if the main function of mice in the pet world is to be food for large snakes and other reptiles. The are just insignificant, disposable foodstuff at the bottom of the food chain! The man at the pet shop said that they breed their own and “go through about 50 every week and a half. There is a great demand for feeders.” I asked if they all go to be feeders. He said, “occasionally one will get lucky and become a pet, but most are used for food.” I looked again into the mouse cage and there were pitiful little creatures with no awareness of the danger they were in. Destined, without some outside intervention, to meet a violent end to a brief life. There was certainly nothing particularly attractive about mice, pointed noses, skinny hairless tails and beady eyes. They had done nothing or could do nothing for me, their rescue was only based on the good will of one such as me. Forgive me for comparing mice with men but that is how most go through life. On their way to a terrible end due to the ravages of sin and the judgment that it brings. The only hope is from the outside. Just as the mice had no hope of escape neither do we in our own efforts we need one who is stronger to act favorable toward us from the outside. This is exactly what Jesus did in coming to this earth and on the cross paid with His own blood the price of freedom. This is grace. Have you experienced the free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:9-9)? If you are still trying by your own efforts to merit God’s favor you will never be free from the bondage of sin and will remain in danger of the strike of the Old Serpent (Rev. 12:9).
After paying the price for my mouse’s freedom I then assumed a responsibility to care for him, protect and feed him. I had to provide a “cat-proof cage” for Max, to which later I added a mouse-sized exercise wheel and water bottle. Later after reading that mice are social creatures I acquired a second mouse. This little tan and brown mouse became known as Minnie. My grace toward my mice that had been rescued from being snake-food, now received my grace to sustain them for the rest of their lives. On an infinitely larger scale, God not only sets us free from judgment by His grace he give us by His grace eternal life! He provides everything we need in this life and the one that awaits us on the other side of death. Even though this grace does not require our work to secure it, out of love we should serve the God who brought it to bear in our lives. As we experience such grace we should sing as Robert Robinson did in 1758 when he penned these words, “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.” Yes, we must trust Him for daily grace and serve Him faithful as an act of love to the God of all grace.
During the time I had these two mice, I learned a few things about these creature. For one they are amazing climbers and jumpers. Even with these small animals that science say are among the least intelligent of all mammals, they still are wonderfully made. Just look at how difficult they are to exterminate and one will see they have some built in advantages, one of which is the ability to reproduce often and in great numbers. They are able to do exactly what God created them to do. So are we. We have been created as the highest order of beings on this planet and are to take dominion over all other creatures. Also we individually have been made with certain abilities and talents. We will find our greatest fulfillment in life if we use our talents for their intended purpose and that is ultimately to serve the God who deals with us in grace.
For some period of time the mice were a source of entertainment for me and my family. We would put them occasionally in a large aquarium with hanging ropes and various items to climb on and watch these little acrobats perform for us. They also were a favorite of the children of our church and they helped me teach them several times. I am not sure how old Max and Minnie were in mouse years but they eventually died but the lessons of grace continue to provide encouragement and direction for my soul; may they do the same for you.
Jesse Waggoner @JesseWaggoner
Originally published in 1997