Breeding Spotted Mice
The Associated Press lately carried an interesting if somewhat depressing
story out of London about a certain British peer who had died just a few
days short of his eighty-ninth birthday.
Having been a man of means and position, it had presumably not been
necessary for him to work for a living like the rest of us, so at the time
of his death he had had about seventy adult years in which he was free
to do whatever he wanted to do, to pursue any calling he wished or to work
at anything he felt worthy of his considerable abilities.
And what had he chosen to do? Well, according to the story, he had "devoted
his life to trying to breed the perfect spotted mouse."
Now, I grant every man the right to breed spotted mice if he wants to
and can get the cooperation of the mice, and I freely admit that it is
his business and not mine. Not being a mouse lover (nor a mouse hater for
that matter; I am just neutral about mice), I do not know but that a spotted
mouse might be more useful and make a more affectionate pet than a common
mouse colored mouse. But still I am troubled.
The mouse breeder in question was a lord, and I was born on a farm in
the hill country of Pennsylvania, but since a cat can look at a king I
suppose a farm boy can look at a lord, even look at him with disapproval
if the circumstances warrant. Anyway, a man's a man for a' that, and I
feel a certain kinship for every man born of woman; so I cannot but grieve
for my brother beyond the seas.
Made in the image of God, equipped with awesome powers of mind and soul,
called to dream
immortal dreams and to think the long thoughts of eternity, he chooses
the breeding of a spotted mouse as his reason for existing. Invited to
walk with God on earth and to dwell at last with the saints and angels
in the world above; called to serve his generation by the will of God,
to press with holy vigor toward the mark for the prize of the high calling
of God in Christ Jesus, he dedicates his life to the spotted mouse not
just evenings or holidays, mind you, but his entire life. Surely this is
tragedy worthy of the mind of an Aeschylus or a Shakespeare.
Let us hope that the story is not true or that the news boys got it
mixed up as they sometimes do; but even if the whole thing should prove
to be a hoax, still it points up a stark human tragedy that is being enacted
before our eyes daily, not by make believe play actors, but by real men
and women who are the characters they portray. These should be concerned
with sin and righteousness and judgment; they should be getting ready to
die and to live again; but instead they spend their days breeding spotted
If the spiritual view of the world is the correct one, as Christianity
boldly asserts that it is, then for every one of us heaven is more important
than earth and eternity more important than time. If Jesus Christ is who
He claimed to be; if He is what the glorious company of the apostles and
the noble army of martyrs declared that He is; if the faith which the holy
church throughout all the world doth acknowledge is the true faith of God,
then no man has any right to dedicate his life to anything that can burn
or rust or rot or die. No man has any right to give himself completely
to anyone but Christ nor to anything but prayer.
The man who does not know where he is is lost; the man who does not
know why he was born is worse lost; the man who cannot find an object worthy
of his true devotion is lost utterly; and by this description the human
race is lost, and it is a part of our lostness that we do not know how
lost we are. So we use up the few precious years allotted to us breeding
spotted mice. Not the kind that scurry and squeak, maybe; but viewed in
the light of eternity, are not most of our little human activities almost
One of the glories of the Christian gospel is its ability not only to
deliver a man from sin but to orient him, to place him on a peak from which
he can see yesterday and today in their relation to tomorrow. The truth
cleanses his mind so that he can recognize things that matter and see time
and space and kings and cabbages in their true perspective. The Spirit-illuminated
Christian cannot be cheated. He knows the values of things; he will not
bid on a rainbow nor make a down payment on a mirage; he will not, in short,
devote his life to spotted mice.
Back of every wasted life is a bad philosophy, an erroneous conception
of life's worth and purpose. The man who believes that he was born to get
all be can will spend his life trying to get it; and whatever he gets will
be but a cage of spotted mice. The man who believes he was created to enjoy
fleshly pleasures will devote himself to pleasure seeking; and if by a
combination of favorable circumstances he manages to get a lot of fun out
of life, his pleasures will all turn to ashes in his mouth at the last.
He will find out too late that God made him too noble to be satisfied with
those tawdry pleasures he had devoted his life to here under the sun.
[Excerpt from Man
- The Dwelling Place of God, by A. W. Tozer. In the public domain.]
Aiden Wilson Tozer (April
21, 1897 - May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author,
magazine editor, Bible conference speaker, and spiritual mentor. For his
work, he received two honorary doctorate degrees.
Among the more than 40 books
that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The
Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. His books impress
on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with
Living a simple and non-materialistic
lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring
bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author,
Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.
Tozer had seven children,
six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet Cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with
a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God."
Prayer was of vital personal
importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions
of his prayer life," comments his biographer, James L. Snyder, in the book,
In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to
make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying
to them," writes Snyder.