These groundhogs are like a B-rated movie that Hollywood keeps making sequels for. “The rodents are back. With vengeance.”
The signs were subtle at first. Some munched zucchini leaves. A half-eaten squash. I reasoned that it could have been leftover damage from the previous rodent I had trapped.
Then, a couple nights ago while watering my garden at dusk, I noticed a pile of sand between two zucchini plants. I didn’t have enough light to examine the extent of the issue, but I could tell it was a larger pile of sand than my kids could have moved from their sandbox with their toy shovels. I wondered who could have possibly shoveled so much sand into my garden. A prank? I’ve seen middle schoolers trek through our yard on their way to the grocery store down the hill. My mind started to race with untold possibilities.
Once again, Kedron was out of town, so I texted him. “Please call! Something strange in the backyard!!”
My phone rang a few minutes later. “What’s the matter, babe?”
I told the story of my suspicious find in the garden.
He paused, used to my over-exaggerations. “What do you mean by giant pile of sand?”
“I tried to remove some of it with a shovel and it’s probably at least a foot deep.”
He paused for a moment before replying, “Ok, that is strange. It is probably time to fence in the back yard.”
The next morning, I went to investigate further. I hunched down, and that’s when I noticed the large hole underneath the zucchini plant. The row of plants was munched down to the stems and half eaten zucchini and squash littered the back section of the garden.
“Oh no,” I groaned. The hole was much too large for a snake. It looked more like the size of a groundhog. And by the amount of sand in my garden I knew the rodents had dug way past the rocky topsoil.
Kedron returned home that evening and I informed him that it was not teenagers playing a prank. It was the return of the rodents.
I kept a watchful eye on the garden, feeling helpless. Then, I saw two groundhogs feasting on my carrots. I raced out the back door waving my arms and yelling. The two critters dashed down the hole. I felt sick to my stomach.
I grabbed the live trap, threw in a half eaten meal of zucchini and set the trap right outside the hole. There was no way they could exit without entering the trap. Within a few hours, I had one of them.
After posting my groundhog woes on Facebook, a neighbor posted that she discovered a hole under her deck. Another neighbor has seen two groundhogs eating her garden.
Then a friend gave an ominous warning, “They are highly destructive…they are everywhere. You get rid of one and 2 more come in their place…I hate to tell you but their dens are 20-30 feet around your yard with all kinds of rooms. Time to implement a little shock and awe… :)”
I sat in the kitchen staring at the backyard. Right underneath my feet, just below my view, the rodents had tunneled destruction. I have no idea how deep, or how far their path was, or how many there might be. I felt helpless, like giving up. But I knew I couldn’t. They had already eaten so much of my crop, but I couldn’t let them win.
I’ve felt this same way when I’ve realized that sin has tunneled a path of destruction right under my feet. Just as the groundhogs work underground, sin often works its way into our lives and relationships in the dark, just out of our view.
At first, we may not recognize the symptoms we see. And how could we? There’s often no way to know how deep the problem goes.
Then one day the truth surfaces. We realize a child has tunneled into an addictive substance. A spouse admits to being caught in a trap of pornography. We discover co-workers have plotted our demise. Or we awaken in our own tunnel of bitterness and resentment.
Waking up to what lies beneath can be sickening, overwhelming, hopeless. Yet God promises He is with us, even in the tunnels. No matter how isolated and alone we might feel, He is there.
When I’ve sat above the tunnels, I’ve faced anger, rage, and felt so foolish for not having seen the signs earlier. I needed a place to direct my anger. The natural objects of my wrath would be the offenders or even God. Then one day, in the midst of a frantic search for who or what to blame – I felt as though God whispered, “Hate the evil. Not the person. And not me, because I hate it too.”
To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
If you love someone caught in a seemingly endless tunnel of destruction, hold on. Keep loving them, and hate, abhor, rage against the evil they are caught in. Stand on the firm foundation of Jesus. Know that He died because of that evil, and He feels your pain, He feels the pain of your loved one. He desires to rescue. And even though the process is long and painful, keep turning to Him – through honest, gut-wrenching prayer. Hold on.