Here’s the opposite of a headline appropriate for Valentine’s Day: “Rats will devour your car.”
The problem is apparently the soy-based wiring insulation in today’s cars. Engineered to be more eco-friendly, it is irresistible to rodents. Rats’ teeth grow constantly, so they gnaw on things to trim them. They are drawn to the warmth and shelter of automobile engines in colder months, where they chew on these wires and hoses as well.
According to the Washington Post article, no one tracks rat damage to cars, but there are signs that it is a growing problem as the nationwide rat population booms. A San Diego resident named David Albin, who calls himself “Rat King Dave,” seems to be the expert on the issue. After rats damaged his cars three years ago, he has devoted himself to stopping them.
He leaves his car hoods up every night during winter. He patrols daily for rat droppings; if he finds them, he places peanut butter-baited snap traps at the bases and sometimes the tops of his tires. He spritzes the engine compartment with peppermint spray. He has placed a spotlight under the car (rats prefer darkness). He has even positioned an owl decoy nearby but warns that rats quickly get wise.
“Every rat is different,” he said. “And they multiply so quickly that you’re getting new families in.”
The solution for unseen rodents
We could respond to this rather grotesque story in several ways.
We might note the law of unintended consequences it illustrates. (Who knew soy-based wiring would be appetizing to rats?) We could discuss the fact that animals presumably less intelligent than humans are proving so difficult to outsmart.
The principle that came to mind first for me, however, is a spiritual fact: problems we cannot see inevitably lead to problems we can.
We think our private sins are private, but they are not.
Jesus warned us: “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:2–3).
The converse is true as well.
When we help someone in need, whether the world sees our generosity or not, Jesus does: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). Every act of faithful obedience in this world will be rewarded in the next.
The time to remove the rats from our engines is now. The longer we wait, the worse the problem will become. And when we confess our sin and choose righteousness instead, others “may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
How do we get rid of spiritual rats?
Consider this story.
Many years ago, in the pioneer days of aviation, a pilot was in the air when he heard a noise which he recognized as the gnawing of a rat. For all he knew, the rat could be gnawing through a vital cable or control of the plane. It was a very serious situation.
At first, the pilot did not know what to do. He was more than two hours from the next landing strip and two hours gone from the field where he had taken off.
Then he remembered that a rat is a rodent. It was not made for the heights; it was made to live on the ground and under the ground. And so, the pilot began to climb.
He went up a thousand feet, then another and another, until he was over twenty thousand feet up. The gnawing ceased. The rat was dead. It could not survive the atmosphere of those heights.
More than two hours later, the pilot brought the plane safely to the landing field and found the dead rat.
Sin is a rodent. It cannot live in the secret place of the Most High God. It cannot breathe in the atmosphere of prayer and trust and Scripture and worship. That’s why temptation dies when we take it to the Lord. What rats are under your hood today?