Pointy pink nose with long whiskers.
Small, beady, black eyes.
Long, furless, pink tail.
It was a rat alright. A rather large, white rat. So what was it doing sitting on the bottom of a shopping cart outside the Dollar General store? And why was it so oddly calm in the presence of humans?
When I first spotted it, the rat was scaling up the cart. It met my eyes and paused. We looked at each other for several long moments, no more than two feet separating us. Normally, I am not a rodent person, but somehow I got the distinct impression that this rat was not your normal run-of-the-mill rat.
The store clerk said that the rat had been inspecting the shopping carts for over an hour. Before that, it had investigated several other empty store fronts along the mostly empty strip mall. "Why," I wondered aloud, "has this rat chosen to hang out by the one door where humans made a steady stream in and out?"
I pondered this strange white rat for the rest of the afternoon, wondering how he came to be outside the Dollar General. Was this someone's pet? Perhaps it was an escapee from a local pet store ...
The more I thought about the rat's unlikely situation, the more it occurred to me that I should be like that rat. I should resemble one who is out of place.
You see, I don't particularly notice the pigeons outside the Dollar General. Nor do I pay close attention to all the dogs being walked on leashes in our neighborhood park. These are natural in those environments. They fit right in and there is nothing odd or striking about them. I see them, but they do not make me pause and wonder.
The rat, on the other had, was strangely out of place. I noticed it and I couldn't seem to help myself from thinking further about it. In fact, it consumed a larger portion of my afternoon than I truly care to admit.
As a Christ-follower, this world is not my home. Christ calls us to be in the world but not of the world ... to be as a traveler far from home. I'm not supposed to fit in or blend in. There are days when I feel discouraged because it seems I'm trying to fit into a place I don't belong, like the proverbial square peg trying to fit into the round hole. In reality, because of my faith in Christ, I'm suppose to be different, to not fit, to cause others to ponder what exactly it is that makes me different. My job is not to make Christ more palatable to the rest of the world, but rather to be strange enough to cause others to stop and think and ponder what it is that makes me so different.
I'm sure I'll never know why that unafraid white rat was hanging out by the Dollar General earlier this week, and how it got to be in such an out-of-place state, but I do know why I feel like a stranger in this world just longing to go to the place I truly belong.
Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.