If you grew up or had kids or grandkids anytime between 1952 and today, then you’re probably familiar with E.B. White’s classic story Charlotte’s Web. Who doesn’t remember the lovable pig Wilbur and the clever spider Charlotte who saves him from becoming a Christmas ham? You may also remember the less lovable rat, Templeton, who begrudgingly provides the scraps of paper with words to inspire Charlotte’s web making. Templeton’s chief occupation involves digging through trash to find morsels of food and stealing items to stash in his nest. As distasteful as he is, he’s a necessary and humorous foil to the more endearing characters.
My family had its own version of “Templeton” raiding our backyard shed over the last year. It turns out that the dried corn kernels used to fill the beanbags for our Corn Hole game made a tasty treat for an unsavory critter. He wormed his way into the shed through a hole in the rotting plywood floor and would steal different objects for his nest, leaving behind evidence that he’d been well-fed (let’s just say those weren’t raisins on the floor of the shed…)
Eventually we bought new beanbags with “synthetic corn” that holds no appeal to critters. We also unscrewed the metal shed from its foundation and replaced the rotting plywood with new planks. When my husband and I removed the dilapidated floor, we found “Templeton’s” lair in the space underneath (thankfully he had long since vacated the premises—probably when the corn ran out). We were shocked to discover his nest lined with the blue and yellow remnants of the corn bags along with the fabric sack we’d used to store them. He had been stealing from us for months and we had no idea.
Cleaning out the mess made me think about Jesus’ words in the gospel of John:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)
I started wondering how often we’re oblivious as Satan steals things right beneath our noses. Like a rat, he’s sneaky and quiet, expanding his territory little by little. He might leave trace evidence of his presence, but it’s subtle enough to annoy us without setting off alarms. He’ll keep stealing from us as long as we let him. We’re often unaware of his antics until he’s done quite a bit of damage. Finally, we take authority and say, “Enough!” I’ve been asking myself about some of the covert ways he steals from us:
-When have we let him rob us of joy or gratitude by focusing on what we lack instead of recognizing all that we have?
-When have we let him steal our peace and contentment by worrying instead of trusting God?
-When have we let him color our attitudes with negativity, stealing our hope and making us bitter?
Like a rat, Satan digs through the trash of our lives to see what he can use to distract and discourage us from God’s greater purposes. Our weaknesses are obvious to him and he knows just how to capitalize on them to make us feel powerless and hopeless.
-Insecurity rears its head when we focus on how others aren’t meeting our emotional needs instead of focusing on God, the One who loves us unconditionally.
-Self-confidence falters when we compare ourselves to others and feel we lack something, while pride gloats when we compare ourselves to others and feel we’re superior.
-Anger and resentment simmer in us when we believe we’re entitled to a certain privilege or comfort that’s been denied to us.
Are you letting Satan dig through your trash or steal from you without even realizing it? For those who have accepted Christ, we’ve been given authority to banish Satan and his insidious bag of tricks.
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV)
Let me encourage you to take your thoughts captive today. Claim the authority you have in Christ and invite the Holy Spirit to demolish any strongholds Satan has quietly established in your life. Don’t let that sneaky rat steal your joy and keep you from having the abundant life God promises.