In 1998 in Devon, England, Fido, a pet rat was minding his own business in his cage, when an electric fire set alight Lisa Gumbley's carpet and furniture. Fido managed to escape from his unlocked cage but instead of darting to safety he scuttled up the stairs to awaken single mother Lisa and her daughters, Megan, nine, and Shannon, three.
Fido frantically scratched at the bedroom door to alert 29-year-old Lisa to the impending disaster. She takes up the story:
The noise of the scratching woke me up and I got up to go to the toilet and I found Fido.
Lisa picked Fido up and carried the considerate rodent downstairs to put him back in his cage. Bright as a button she noticed smoke and flames attacking the ground floor; she rushed back upstairs and alerted her two daughters and their gran, Gloria to the danger.
The family managed to get out of the house and then Lisa called the fire brigade who arrived promptly and quickly got the blaze under control. Lisa stated poignantly:
If it wasn’t for Fido we'd all be dead now. They say that rats desert sinking ships but our Fido's a real hero. He didn't run off but came upstairs to save us. We all love him to bits.
A spokesperson for the fire brigade opined:
We've heard of dogs and cats waking their owners. Even a parrot. But never a rat. Now we hope to make Fido an honorary fire fighter.
Lisa added thoughtfully:
We got him a Chinese meal of sweet and sour with fried rice, which he loves, and bought him an Easter egg because chocolate is his favourite.
This heartwarming story is full of humour, warmth and eccentricity. Your response to the story reveals your deepest beliefs. Imagine you are Lisa: how would you interpret the event? Christians would thank God for Fido the rat! Materialists would invoke 'luck' or 'chance'. Buddhists might mention having 'a good karma'. Pagans might chirp – "you should thank your lucky stars". Let's probe a bit deeper about biblical teaching.
Just as Fido unexpectedly rescued Lisa's family from fire and untimely death, so God rescues humans by sending His Son Jesus into the world. But a note of caution must be sounded. The gospel story is deeply personal but it isn't personalistic. Biblical salvation is not God's rescue of individuals from the world, but God's rescue of the whole created order. Lisa, kids and gran are not snatched away to Mars or Jupiter! They do not vanish into an unseen 'spiritual' realm. In the fulness of time they come back to their house that has been rebuilt, replastered, repainted and restored; a home where Fido can carry on being… Fido, the lovable rat and hopefully enjoy additional Chinese treats. In biblical terms God is busy rescuing His broken creation from sin, evil and darkness.