Our beloved pet mouse, Scooter, passed away recently. Over the last few months, he had grown strong and agile despite his handicaps. (click here for Scooter’s background) He also proved to be quite the escape artist. His first adventure out of his make-shift cage turned into something of a comedy. We had no clue he was able to get out of his home until we went to feed him one day only to discover that he was missing. Apparently, he’d climbed up the wall of his tank, squeezed through a space in the lid, dropped onto the dresser and shimmied himself down the side to make his way into Ryan’s closet. It was our dog, Jake, who was the one who discovered that Scooter was roaming freely around the room. His incessant barking and scratching at the closet door alerted me to the escapee’s location. I threw open the door and carefully began to move the contents of the floor around. I lifted a hiking boot, and Scooter scurried out from hiding and past my feet. A wild scene ensued.
Jake quickly closed in as the mouse took cover behind the bookcase. I swung around to grab the dog. Jake flailed. Scooter scampered. I called for help, but before any of the kids could arrive, Scooter had disappeared. With flashlights in hand, we expanded our search area. When that didn’t work, we decided Jake was possibly our best tool to find his location and let him back into the room. Immediately, Jake darted to Jason’s closet, disappearing under the clothes. Ryan pulled out a large box filled with toys and cowering in the far corner was Scooter. Before we could do anything, Jake snapped Scooter up in his mouth. Scooping the dog up quickly and with an emphatic “no,” Ryan gave him a quick, firm shake. Scooter flew out of Jake’s mouth and onto the floor. He scampered into the open where I trapped him under a kitchen strainer. As the chaotic scene settled down, we ushered a very excited Jake out of the room, and carefully returned a stunned and wet mouse to his make-shift habitat. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only time Scooter tried to escape. The last time he was successful, we weren’t at home to find him in time to save him from dehydration.
As I was cleaning out his cage to store it away in the basement, it occurred to me that the absolute best life our little pet could have ever hoped for was inside the walls of the home we made for him. In it, he was warm, fed, protected, cared for and loved. But, of course, he wasn’t able to realize restraining him was actually for his benefit. So in his ignorance, he never gave up his quest to be free of limitations, until one day, he successfully squeezed through the protective barrier to his ultimate demise.
We mourned the loss of our little friend, but have learned a valuable principle from his passing that can help us avoid personal disasters that result from wandering outside God’s protective rules. While a lot of people see His laws as only limitations on their self-expression, the reality is His principles and commands construct strong walls that exist for our shelter. Inside their perimeter is safety, provision and rest. (Ps 91:1) His promise is that if we contently stay put, He will supply us with all we need to experience the best life possible. (Deut. 6:1-3) But just like our little mouse, we’re often tempted to think we can find something better on our own and over the wall we go. We abandon the bread and water of life, only to find that we become quickly famished, dehydrated and face dangers we could never imagine.
Like Scooter’s aquarium, God’s “walls” aren’t meant to impede our liberty or enjoyment of life, but to give us the maximum freedom possible. As our Creator, He has the wisdom to know how we should live, what works best, and what will bring the most joy to us in the future.
Real liberty will never be found in doing whatever we want, when, how and where we want; it’s found only inside the boundaries of God’s laws. When we stay within those parameters, we can safely enjoy and rest in His blessings.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom,
and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.