Just a fairy tale, you say? Maybe, or maybe not, especially since an actual date has now been attached to the event. Manuscripts, paintings, even stained glass windows have been discovered depicting and describing the event as real. What caused the children to leave? You will find as many explanations as scholars studying it, and I will leave that to you. But the part about the rats? That was not added to the story for 300 years, so it is probably just legend. Still, rodents are the issue today.
We have never had much trouble before now. Barn cats do an excellent job. Even after the second in a row went hunting one evening never to return, we had no trouble because a garter snake moved into the enclosed crawl space under the house.
For four or five years that snake minded his own business, which was good for us—we seldom had a mouse in the house, in spite of living deep in the piney woods. Sometimes we’d see him stretched out in the sunny yard, nearly four feet long thanks to his dark pantry beneath our floors, but we would turn and go the other way to keep the dogs off of him until he had returned home.
One summer day, he ventured out while Keith was mowing. He assumed the snake would turn and slither back into the flower beds as he approached. Just as he passed by, the frightened reptile turned and darted toward the mower. Keith groaned aloud as he rode right over him, scattering garter snake to the winds.
The trouble started in the winter, of course. I began hearing them gnaw on the bottom of the house. So Keith crawled into that dark, dusty cavern with packets of poison, a flashlight, and a pistol, in case a less benevolent snake had moved in. In a couple of days the noises stopped, only to start again three or four days later. The packets of poison were empty. More crawling, more packets, and once again quiet reigned in the night. In about two weeks, we seemed to have the problem licked.
Two months later, when Keith rose at 4:30 am to get ready for work, he found a mouse sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. We set out traps this time, as well as poison. Sometimes I hear one in the middle of the night crunching the poison pellets. Then we’ll have two or three nights of quiet before the next one arrives. You see, where we live there is an endless supply of rodents. Rats and mice will never make the endangered species list.
Not all endless supplies are bad though. The grace of God is a good case in point. Christ told Paul, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Cor 12:9) to help you handle your problems. It isn’t that you need to get rid of the problem, he told him; it’s that you need to trust that there is enough grace to help you through it.
Paul told Timothy that God’s grace was “exceeding abundant,” 1 Tim 1:4. The root word means “to abound,” a word that brings to my mind that Southern phrase “a gracious plenty.” Yet in this passage Paul attaches an intensifier, huper (from which we get “hyper”). So it means “to abound exceedingly.” Not just a lot, but a whole lot of a lot. You simply can’t need more grace than God has to give, no matter how big a sinner you may think you are, nor how often you sin; no matter how big your problems are. That means he’ll have enough for your neighbor too—you won’t lose out if you share. Yes, in this case, an endless supply is a very good thing.
But not as the trespass, so also the free gift. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many. And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly: that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom 5:15,20,21.