Annabelle In six months I will be fifty five years old. I've been a Christian since I was five. It seems like I would have mastered all of the basics by now. I haven't. It seems like every lesson we learn from God involves pain and tears, but that's not His fault, it's ours because we're stupid. Sorry if that insults you but it's true. God told us everything to do and what not to do. If we would learn and follow His lessons there would be no sin in the universe. Nothing would die, nothing would be sick, there would be no tears, no anger, no fights, no doctors (they wouldn't have anything to do), no police or firemen or paramedics or soldiers or locksmiths no weapon manufacturers, no drug companies, no bad report cards, no layoffs, no African violets dying, no plants dying of any kind, no dentists, no nurses, No veterinarians, no rabies, no earthquakes, no volcanoes, no floods, no famines. All of the things I listed are because of the bad choices of two people. Sin. That's what I should have understood by now, I thought I did, I knew all the biblical answers, the philosophical answers, all the right answers. I've had friends die, a child die, sickness, tears, pain, the whole thing. I knew all of that was caused by sin. I've asked myself countless times about the consequences of sin and time after time I've given myself the answers, the right answers. I thought I had it figured out. I did, I just didn't consider how deep and insidious sin is. Things that I understood before, I understand better now. How terrible the effects of sin are, and how absolutely magnificent God is. But before I dive into that I first have to talk about rats. Say what? What possible connection can there be? Rats are nasty dirty mean vermin. Aren't they? There are wild dogs and there are domestic dogs. There are wild cats and there are domestic cats. There are wild rats and there are domestic rats. There is as much difference in a wild rat and domestic rat as there is in a wild dog and a domestic dog. Wild dogs don't make very good or reliable pets, domestic dogs do. Same with rats. My next statement is off topic but necessary, I'm sorry if it seems confusing. One of Satan's best tricks is to take precious things and cheapen them so they have no meaning. Love is one of those things. You'll hear and see it all around you. 'I love strawberries' , 'I love sports', I love my car' , I love this and that. Society 'loves' so many trivial and silly things that the word no longer means what it should. There was a time when if someone said “I love you” it had meaning. Now the phrase might mean “I love you for the next few minutes, or until someone cooler comes along, or until you cease to be of use to me. This incredible, magic word now means almost nothing. Satan engineered that, but it's a topic for another article someday. My point for now is that I use the word with precision when I say “I love my rats.” That might seem sacrilegious or cheap but I promise you that I mean it. Domestic rats are warm, affectionate, clean, intelligent, playful and fun. As for as I'm concerned, only one things keeps them from being the perfect pet and that's the fact they they have such a short lifespan. One rat year is equal to thirty people years, about three years is a long life for a rat. Sometimes they have been known to live five or six years but cases like that are rare. Domestic rats have been genetically messed up so badly that they have certain health problems that are very common to them. You've probably heard enough about rats by now and would like to get back to the Christian stuff. You're in luck, we're to that point. One of my girls is Annabelle, in rat terms she is a little dumbo self rat. She has never hurt a sole in her life. All she wants to do is eat, sleep, play, and sit on my shoulder. Right now she is lying wrapped on one of my shirts on my kitchen table. Thanks to the choices of our scientific community one of the more common problems afflicting rats are pituitary tumors. When a rat gets one they lose motor control., their legs stick out in front stiffly and they are pretty much paralyzed. This condition is almost always fatal but has been survived in a few cases. Annabelle has this condition. For two days now we've been carrying her around the house with us so she isn't alone, feeding her medicine and food through an eye dropper and giving her baths. As I said earlier, rats are very clean and being dirty effects them in much the same way being dirty affects us. I've been crying for two days now, wishing and praying that she either get better or quietly die in her sleep. Yet she lives on and I cry on. Some readers are thinking I should 'do the humane thing' and put her down. Yes, well, I remember one time when I was paralyzed, scared, and alone in a dark room. How would I have felt had someone decided to be humane and put me down? You can argue that it's different, I can respond that there is no difference. I was a living thinking being that wanted to live. So is she. I will not kill her when she fights for every minute. I asked God to just let her go to sleep, but she lingers on. I thought about why God allows that. Does He not care? Of course He does, more than I can imagine. If you think He doesn't care about animals... well, you're clueless. I could fill this page with biblical references that support the fact that He loves them. The next thought in the process was that He has seen every death, heard every sob, seen every tear, since the first two stupid people made the wrong choices. When you consider that this includes every living thing in history, the number is both staggering and incalculable. The next thought was how can any being endure all of this and remain unchanged, still loving and gentle. Only a real card carrying dyed in the wool official God could do that. He knows how it it tearing me apart inside, He is not sadistic, if He is allowing this it's for a reason. That reason is simple. He doesn't want bad things to happen to us, but He knows they will, so he makes the best of whatever terrible thing that happens, he brings some good from every evil. That seems like a pathetic little from and all powerful being when we're sitting by a bed holding the hand of a fading child. The reason is the subject of almost all of my articles for the past few years: Free choice. Everything bad that happens is due, either directly or indirectly to someone's choice. If He took away our free choice, we would be robots, incapable of love or joy or any choice about anything. Ok, so why can't He take away the choices of the stupid people? That includes all of us, remember? Why not take away this so called free choice from Hitler or Stalin, it would save millions? The same reason He doesn't take away the free choice from ______________ put your name there. Yes but, but, I never hurt anybody! I could go in SO many directions with that response but I'll keep it simple. Yes, you did. Simple enough? Every time we make a bad choice and sin, someone pays the price. Maybe not then and there, maybe weeks, months, or sometimes years but at some point your sin will cause pain to someone. But what about the baby who never hurt anybody? How about an innocent little rat who never hurt anybody? Ah, well, that's one of the nastiest things about sin. It doesn't always (never in fact) only affect the person making that choice. For example, lets use another one of those things that Satan has trivialized: Sex. Society says 'it's cool. It doesn't hurt anybody' but let's go out and have a 'enjoyable evening', (to avoid being too graphic and offensive) what is the result? Someone ends up pregnant or they don't. They might get an STD or they might not. Let's the first possibility: She is pregnant. What are her options? 1 have it, 2 kill it, 3 give it away for adoption. If she has it, her life changes, what was simple now is a mess, what was cheap now is impossibly expensive. What peace she had is now hectic. If she opts for an abortion, her life is changed forever. If you think you just kill a baby and walk away and forget it, you're sorrowfully wrong. Abortions usually cause physical damage that causes pan, infertility, and death later. And the psychological damage is just as bad if not worse than the physical. If she puts it up for adoptions, she thinks about it for the rest if her life. Bad choices, no winners. Apply this to almost anything, gambling, violence, lust, rage, gossip, anything, and if you think it through you'll see that at some point it will result in pain for someone. Every bad thing that happens is the result or someone's choice. Even the earthquakes and natural calamities because when Eve bit into the fruit, everything in creation, that means everything in every molecule of every galaxy was corrupted. The result of sin is tragic, plain and simple. So I come back to an innocent little rat wrapped in one of my shirts that is slowly dying. It's partly Eve and Adam's fault, partly because of the people who messed up the species genetically, and partly mine for not doing what I should have done before when she was healthy. I am now much more aware of my sin and bad choices and the consequences. I'm more aware than I ever have been. I think I now hate sin as almost much as God does. I probably don't, but I feel like I do. Annabelle's suffering wasn't for nothing. I wish I could say “Ok, God, I got it, I learned this lesson, You can give her some peace now.” But it doesn't work that way. I had stopped crying long enough to write, and the writing is done, and the monitor is blurry. No, it's my eyes.
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