Rats in the Cellar?

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the evidence for what sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. (Lewis, 164-165)

To anyone who knows me in person, it would not come as a surprise to learn that my mouth gets me in trouble faster than anything else. I have laughably and notoriously exhibited my failure to think before speaking repeatedly throughout my life, beginning as a toddler when I asked a particular uncle if he was ugly and continuing to present-day. (Though I won’t cite examples. I’m pleading the Fifth Amendment here!)

Granted, many of my examples of foot-in-mouth syndrome are simple and silly and don’t hurt anyone. But it’s not always that easy to laugh off—especially when I hurt or offend someone or when I make a snap judgment about someone. At those times, I can clearly see the truth in Matthew 12:34: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”


I have to stop and ask myself: What are the rats in my cellar? What are those big, ugly rodents that I’m afraid to face?

And I have to realize that only by facing the rats will I ever get rid of them.

Do you have any rats in your cellar? Are you ready to get rid of them?

We are powerless to eradicate them, but we can open the door for God to come in and do it for us. Are we ready to do that?

This post is part of a regular discussion that my friend and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen, some of our friends, and I are having on CS Lewis’ classic book “Mere Christianity.” Please feel free to stick around and discuss, whether you’ve read the book or not. And if you’ve written a response, by all means, link it up below!


About Sarah Salter


  1. I liked it.. but you were above my head this time Sista Sarah… I think I got it but not sure. I do know we have to be careful what we say. That’s for sure.. But whatever you write I like to read it.. And just for the record.. I don’t think you do that often… I don’t really remember you doing that.. anyway…But it could be the hour you are up woman… remember sometimes you can’t hang. Love you lady.

  2. After reading your post, I re-read Matthew ch.12 and I too see the wisdom in that particular passage. I don’t agree that only through God can a person change their personality, I believe that we as intelligent rational beings have the ability and free will to change those parts of our personality through effort and perseverance if we truly choose to. Other than that small difference of opinion, I totally agree with your post: sometimes the mouth says in haste what the mind is thinking, and that’s not always a good thing. Perhaps we should more often actively “hear” the things that are about to come out of our mouths on a regular basis and discover some truths about ourselves; then we can begin to see the flaws in ourselves that need correction. Food for thought.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Logan, it’s always good to have you come by and discuss my posts with me. You certainly challenge me to think and that’s a good thing! However, I still have to stand by my belief that God is the one that changes hearts. He made us intelligent and He gives us the ability and the free will to make decisions to change. HE gives us those things. And then, once we have used the intelligence He gave us and we’ve made the decision (through free will that He gave us) to make a change, then He moves inside us to make that change by giving us the power and stamina to do so. Also, here, you talk about God changing a person’s personality… I think that usually, it’s our habits that He changes. Why would He want to change the very personality that He gave us to begin with? But I’m certainly open to further discussion on this, if you’d like. 🙂

  4. Poor rats. They always get the short end of the stick. And then you call them ugly to boot! *sigh* Poor rats.

    Sometimes I wonder if I need to be on “Hoarders”. There are so many things I try to keep, but then God comes along points out the problem and cleans house.

  5. The rats analogy is certainly a vivid one and so true. Surprising them didn’t create them, but man, we sure think that’s the way it is with our attitudes or anger or whatever.

    As to Logan’s point, I believe there are some things we can improve or change or at the very least work on. Many times it’s not lasting, but we can have varying degrees of success with various methods. With God–in knowledge of Him and relationship to Him–I have experienced the lasting heart change I’m after. Besides that, He makes me aware not only of the things I and everyone else can see, but the deeper issues that I didn’t even recognize (and more than likely, no one else did either). That’s an incredible ally to have! But He’s an incredible, loving, and faithful Savior. Thanks Sarah.

  6. I hate rodents. Even gerbils. The give me the willies.

  7. i agree with you.
    Opening the heart in faith.
    Yes, we are broken, and our heart is broken.
    Our job is to have faith Jesus and in His grace and mercy.
    To remain sensitive to His Spirit.
    And the Holy Spirit can work with a sensitive, and open heart.
    We will always have our rats, but, Jesus is our light.

Speak Your Mind