Living the rugged, country life is going to kill me. Every day I face harrowing circumstances. I become injured. (I stubbed my toe on a rock.) I bleed. (Blackberry bushes have thorns.) Just last week, I nearly died.
It all started with the chickens. Raising chickens isn’t for the faint of heart; there are occasional snakes, and lots of bugs, and far more poo than you’d think could be manufactured in a relatively small creature.
Around noon, I decided to take a break from this computer screen and feed my chickens. I stepped into my garage, where I keep two pairs of rubber boots, a blue pair and a giraffe-print pair. (A girl needs choices.) On this particular day, I chose the giraffe print, kicked off my flip-flops, and turned the boots upside down. This is one of those rugged country-girl rules I’ve learned; never stick your feet in your boots without checking them first, particularly if you keep your boots outside.
Nothing fell out of my boots, so I slid first one foot, then the other into the deep, dark tunnels. Remember, I was wearing flip-flops before, so I’m not wearing socks. I felt something soft and squishy at the toe of my right boot.
But I’ve had trouble with the giraffe boots at times, with the bottom liner slipping to the toe, so I thought that’s what happened. I trudged toward the chicken house, all the while thinking how soft and squishy that toe felt until finally, after about ten steps, I decided something wasn’t right.
I stopped, removed my boot, and tapped it upside down on the ground. And out came a mouse.
A mouse, y’all!
He was all furry and vulnerable and injured, and he looked up at me with his black, scared eyes, pleading for his life. I’m not kidding.
Our eyes locked. I had a brief moment of insanity when I felt kind of bad for him, because I knew he was a goner. He was Jack, and I was the giant, and I’d squished him under my big ol’ scary toe. Then an even greater wave of lunacy took over, and I picked up my boot, beat the thing senseless, and put him out of his misery.
I am a mouse murderer. If you see a tiny Wanted poster with my picture on it, you’ll know why. Don’t bother turning me in, though. The reward is an old piece of string and a half-chewed cheese wedge. Ginger, my trusty Basset hound, offered to deal with the remains.
And that’s where the nearly-dying part comes in. I stumbled over to our brick retaining wall, sat down, and hyperventilated. The more I thought about what just happened, the faster my heart pounded until I knew it would explode, and I worried about whether or not my husband would find me before the buzzards did, and what the coroner would list as the cause of death.
There have been times when I was like that mouse, and I thought life might squish me. I felt trapped in a boot with no place to go but dead. But by design, God has created circumstances for His children in which pressure doesn’t kill us; it only makes us stronger. He’s not some crazy lunatic who tries to pummel us to death; He’s a loving father who wants us to be fierce and solid and tough and rugged. He doesn’t cause the hard things in our lives, but He allows us to experience them, because he wants us to be wise. He wants us to be resilient. He wants us to be rock-solid. And He knows the only way to build our spiritual muscle is to put us in tight situations, where we must exercise our faith. He allows life to press us, but He’ll never allow life to crush us.
I’m glad God doesn’t freak out and beat me senseless when I end up in places I shouldn’t be. Instead, when I call out to Him, He lovingly protects me and leads me back to safety.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair,” 2 Corinthians 4:8.