What do you think about bats? Are you afraid of them, annoyed by them or just don’t have an opinion about them? Most people I know, especially women, would say they are not fond of these nocturnal creatures and I happen to join them in this aversion. If you have ever been up close and personal with one, you would probably join the club of the Anti-Bat Association. I base my opinion on my firsthand experience which took place one summer evening after a week’s stay at Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
We had rented a house on the front beach which I believe is the only way to vacation. Unfortunately, online booking does not always present property as it is in real life. This particular house had a great many undesirable traits, one of which was no closet in our bedroom. After unpacking our clothes and placing them into the dresser drawers, we stored the suitcases in the small attic space that opened from our room. They stayed there all week untouched with the exception of getting a birthday gift out for our son Will. My husband Bill accidentally left his large, black duffle bag-type suitcase opened not knowing it would become more than a suitcase.
Once we arrived home, tired from the drive and ready to sleep in our own beds, Bill carried in the suitcases and I emptied them. Later that night, Bill, Will, and our dog Zoe had all zonked out before 10:00 p.m. Have you ever been so tired that once your head hit the pillow you were wide awake? Crazy, I know, but I couldn’t fall asleep and didn’t want to disturb Bill with a light on for reading. After tossing and turning for about an hour and a half, I heard a shuffling noise in the hall. I called out my son’s name and there was no answer. I called out my dog’s name, no answer.
The noise continued.
There was something rustling in the hallway where our suitcases still sat, waiting on Bill to put them back in the attic. Not wanting to wake Bill up, I took out the flashlight that I keep in the bedside table and started slowly tip-toeing towards the hall. The minute I reached the doorway something came flying towards me. I screamed and woke up Bill who immediately flipped on the light. This pocket-sized aviator chased me and then darted around the room. When it finally lit, we realized it was a bat!
So, I screamed again!
Bill got out of bed laughing and suggested that I hide in the bathroom while he caught the bat. He later said in all our years of marriage he had never before seen me running around screaming like a little school girl. Obviously watching me flit around the room like our uninvited guest, all the while screaming at the top of my lungs entertained Bill tremendously. I complied with Bill’s suggestion and hid in the bathroom while he left to retrieve his fishing net in the garage. My self imposed confinement still makes me giggle to this day!
By the time Bill returned, the bat had gone into our walk-in closet where we have hanging clothes as well as shelves full of sweaters and other items. Bill started one by one going through my clothes with the net and throwing them on the floor. I came out of the bathroom in time to see this and “lovingly rebuked” him. He tried another approach which included attempting to scare me just so I would scream again. His laid back attitude surprised me considering the fact that it was almost midnight and he had to get up in four hours. After about ten minutes of searching he asked, “You’re not going to sleep until we catch this thing, are you?” What kind of question was that?! I replied, “No, you will have to be the man of the house and get it.” Eventually he trapped it in the net in the back corner of the closet. We could tell it was not happy by the hissing and clicking noises it was making.
I had the bright idea of taking a picture of it, so we could show it to our son who slept through the whole episode. Once Bill trapped it with the net, he realized he could not remove it from the house that way. He covered it with a bucket, slid a magazine underneath and carried it outside to the end of the driveway. Just as he removed the bucket Bill began jumping up and down in the driveway. This is the picture I should have captured on my phone! Watching Bill doing the “bat-away-from-me-boogie” at midnight in his robe is when I realized that Bill didn’t really like bats either.
We never actually witnessed the bat exiting any of the three suitcases, but we concluded that this tiny winged mammal had traveled home with us inside of Bill’s black suitcase. Releasing it was our way of saying, “Farewell and find another home!”
So there’s my bat story and I’m not ashamed of my sentiments about bats. Not long after this episode I heard Bible study teacher Beth Moore relate her bat story, and that got me thinking, “I wonder what God thinks about bats.” According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible the word “bat” appears in Leviticus 11:19 and Isaiah 2:20. Bats are listed as one of the twenty types of birds that God told the Israelites not to eat because they are detestable (Lev. 11:13-19 NIV). He said the Israelites were to detest them (NIV).
Then I looked up the meaning of “detestable” in Strong’s Dictionary of the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew word is “shiqquwy” which means disgusting, filthy; espec. idolatrous. The King James Version uses the word “abomination.” I wonder why God called these particular birds “detestable-idolatrous.” Could it be that they were the images that pagan nations had been using for their gods? Isaiah speaks of them as something that men will throw their idols of silver and gold to (along with rodents) on the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:20). No matter, I was glad to see that my feelings about bats (along with Beth Moore’s) aligned with God’s.
As I mentioned before, our beach rental house in Edisto had many undesirable traits. So if there is a lesson to be learned from this “batty” episode, I guess it’s this.
If you stay around something or someone with undesirable traits for too long there’s no telling what detestable abomination you might bring into your home.
The following Spring we returned to Edisto Island for a few days. We were reminded of our bat experience as we drove down Palmetto Boulevard looking for that old run down house. Will said, “I bet they tore it down,” to which I replied, “No, I doubt it.” But guess what?! The house was gone and the lot was smoothed out with the bulldozer still sitting there! It just reminded me that when God says get rid of undesirable traits, He means it!
Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” In the book of Colossians, Paul adds filthy language and lying to this list.
If we want to know what God thinks about something, all we have to do is ask. He communes with us through his word and in our circumstances, sometimes even wacky, strange circumstances. If we are in His word seeking to know His heart, He will speak to us.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
So whether you are at church listening to a sermon, hanging out in a dilapidated beach house, or hiding from bats in your bathroom keep your eyes and ears open for God to speak.
P.S. In Acts 10:15, God told Peter not to call anything impure that God has made clean. Does that mean I have to like bats now?