I smell a rat!

Published 4:45 pm Friday, August 6, 2021

By Judith Victoria Hensley


Years ago, the phrase, “I smell a rat,” was used to indicate that something wasn’t right. In the old gangster movies, it sometimes referred to a person who was making a crooked deal or double-crossing someone. And sometimes it simply referred to an unidentified stench.

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After being gone for several days I came home to that disgusting smell of dead rodent somewhere in my house. I followed my nose to the deceased culprit, picked it up in a paper towel and deposited it in the trash. I scrubbed the floor. I Cloroxed it. I sprayed it with disinfectant. I used deodorizer. I fully anticipated the problem to be gone the next morning when I woke up.

It was late and I didn’t want to take the trash out that night in the dark, assuming the critter was wrapped up, and sitting harmlessly in the bag with other trash. When I picked the bag up the next day to take it out, the smell almost knocked me over!

After I got rid of the bag and the source of the stink, I realized the trash can had the smell lingering. So, I tried to deal with that in the same way I had dealt with the floor the night before. My nose kept picking up the offensive odor and I tried to clean the floor again, and the trash can. I broke out a new spray bottle of linen spray and doused the areas with my new, great smelling spray on top of the cleaning agents.

Today made a solid week since this incident, and I can still smell where the foul odor has been. I keep trying to get rid of it, and it is lessening over time, but my bloodhound nose is still very much aware of the offensive scent. I have company expected over the weekend, and I don’t want them to smell anything unpleasant in my house!

When our pastor brought a message over the weekend that mentioned the “stench of sin” in a person’s life, I immediately thought of the dead rodent stink I’d been fighting in my house. How could one little critter produce such an unpleasant, overpowering smell?

Sin is like that in a person’s life. They might get so used to the smell of their own little sin and rotten habits that they grow accustomed to the aroma. They may even be convinced that no one else realizes the deceitfulness or wrong behaviors going on in their life. But, just like the lingering smell of the rodent that died on my floor, the stink of sin lingers.

We can try to hide it, put it in a bag, and throw away the evidence, but once our soul has been soiled, it’s going to take far more than that to get rid of the stench.

I thought of the old song, “What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Those words have tremendous meaning to the followers of Christ and the “churchy crowd” who sometimes forget that people without a Biblical or religious upbringing don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Jesus spoke in parables. He took common, everyday things and applied them to life in order to illustrate a point. Perhaps that’s the connection in my mind between a gosh-awful smelling dead mouse in my house and the presence of sin in a person’s life.

I know one thing for certain; I don’t want the lingering smell of sin to be clinging to my life any more than I want the odor of a dead critter clinging to my floor. It’s up to us to clean up the mess and be free of the stink. When we need help with the process, we seek out the thing that will clean it up and apply it directly to the problem.