This is an actual picture, not photoshopped, of a dead (?not sure what mechanism) rat on the road near our house. It was a monster. And it got me thinking. Bear with me while I digress.
When we pray "deliver us from Evil" (or the Evil One), I think of Evil with a capital E. War. Abuse. Poverty. Violence. Hate. Incurable diseases, ripped ligaments, rape, drought, malaria, car bombs. Death. These Evils have been a palpable enemy even in the last week. Life in Kenya bumps one up against the capital-E Evils of this world. They are powerful, frightening, and worth fighting against. I love the fact that I have a job that involves getting out of bed at all hours of the day and night to stand directly against this kind of Evil. Deliver this baby from death. Deliver this child from hunger.
But those Evils which are so clearly Evil, are perhaps not the most dangerous. Perhaps the real evil from which we need deliverance is more subtle. More small-e. More insidious, less obvious. The daily wear and tear of an irritable complaining spirit. Ambition. Disappointment. Bitterness. Or even more dangerously, the evil which parades as good. The times my good intentions cause harm, the temptation to take a short-cut to a seemingly good end. Eugene Peterson's exposition of the Lord's Prayer in Tell it Slant (a fantastic book I am still savoring slowly) reminds us that we are vulnerable, that we too often get it completely wrong. That we need the Spirit to deliver us.
So back to that rat. If that monster was hanging out in our kitchen, the Evil would be obvious. We would immediately react.
Instead, our house has been infested with some tiny mice. After a very long LENT of drinking water only . . we turned out wonderful espresso machine back on. Oh the joy of that buzzing motor, that mounting steam. The bliss of that first cup. But our machine kept steaming, and losing water. So Scott opened it up to investigate, and lo and behold, all those dormant weeks meant a mouse had taken up residence and chewed on the wires. So that the thermometer was not regulating properly.
If a monster rat was sitting on our espresso machine for six weeks, it would have been killed. No question of animal rights when it comes to our coffee. Instead a tiny more subtle animal was left unchecked, gnawing away, small increments of damage that may prove even worse.
Deliver us from Evil, and evil. From the horrific injustices of this world, and from the insidious creep of selfishness, cynicism, weary discouragement, discontent. Give us eyes to see the gnawing teeth, and courage to chase both monstrous and micro-rats out of our lives.