To the seven churches . . .

from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness . . .

(Revelation 1:5)

 

Once upon a time there was a mouse named Chicory Cheese. No one in his large family was very famous, except, perhaps, his uncle Chucky, who owned a big string of pizza parlors. But I can tell you this: Chicory was famous in heaven. Whenever the High King sent Chicory Cheese on a mission, all the holy angels quickly gathered round to watch!

One winter’s evening quite close to Christmas, Chicory was walking home after a hard day’s work. On his right, he passed Grandpa Adam’s field. Once again he paused to gaze at the old dead oak tree, standing all alone in the middle of the field. The sight of it always made him sad. Years back, Chicory’s uncle Isaiah, the village schoolteacher, had taken 100 baby mice to play in that field. They never returned. It was the greatest mystery—and the greatest sorrow—in all Hickoryville.

But Chicory refused to let it get him down. Remembering that the joy of the Lord was his strength, he determined once again to shake off his sadness and entrust the whole painful mystery to the Lord. He comforted himself in the thought that the Lord was wise and good, and that he had all things under his complete control.

As Chicory walked along, he began to think about the holidays. Suddenly, a bright idea popped into his head. “Lord,” he prayed, “you’ve done so much for me this year. And now your birthday is coming up. Is there something special I could get you for Christmas?”

Later that night, as he was drifting off to sleep, Chicory received his answer.

“Chicory,” said the Lord Jesus, as the light of his glory filled the room.

“Here I am, Lord,” replied Chicory, recognizing his voice immediately.

“I heard your prayer today and was so pleased! Yes, there is indeed something you can get for me!”

Chicory was pleased that the Lord was pleased with his desire to please the One who was the greatest Pleasure in his life. (As you can see, in Chicory’s relationship with Jesus a whole lot of pleasure was going around). So he said, “Quick Lord, tell me what it is. I can’t wait to get it for you!

“Well,” said Jesus, “I want you to find the 100 baby mice that disappeared in Grandpa Adam’s field so many years ago.”

A cry of astonishment flew out of Chicory’s mouth: “The 100 baby mice! You mean they’re still alive?”

“Yes, and Uncle Isaiah as well, though now he is quite old and his way very hard.”

“Just tell me where they are,” said Chicory, full of resolve, “and I’ll run and get them right away!”

“Chicory, I’m pleased to hear you say that. But there is more you need to know before you accept this assignment.”

“And what is that, Lord?”

“Well,” said Jesus, “Uncle Isaiah and the 100 baby mice were kidnapped by the wolverine that lives in Grandpa Adam’s filled. He forced them down into his lair beneath the dead oak tree. For years they’ve lived there as his slaves. Their fate is a sad one. Since their eyes were not opened when they were taken, they’ve never seen the sun, the moon, or the stars. They’ve never seen the beauties of my creation. And after so many years living in the world beneath, they’re almost completely blind. And Chicory, I must also tell you that now the hundred baby mice think of themselves as moles!”

The thought pierced Chicory. Anguish filled his heart. “Lord, we must act quickly. What would you have me do?”

“Just this. Put your Bible, a candle, and a box of matches in your backpack. Go to Grandpa Adam’s field, descend into the world beneath, and find the missing mice. When you do, tell them all about me and the world above, and ask with them to follow you back up into the light.”

“Lord,” said Chicory, now giving voice to his darkest thought, “if I undertake this mission, will I meet the Wolverine?”

“It’s entirely possible,” said Jesus.

Chicory pondered the Lord’s answer. His face whitened. His teeth chattered. His little tail began to twitch. His body started to shake. But then, finding his courage, he looked up into Jesus’ eyes and said, “Lord, if only you’ll go with me, I’ll do it.”

Tears of pleasure glistened in his Master’s eyes. “Indeed I will indeed, little friend; indeed I will.” And with that, the Lord disappeared.

That very night, at midnight, Chicory Cheese headed out for Grandpa Adam’s field.

_________

About two in the morning, Chicory began his descent into the world below. The tunnel beneath the old oak tree was pitch black. He had to grope in thick darkness, feeling for the walls and letting them guide him downwards.

Nearly an hour later he entered a large cavern. He saw nothing, but could hear mice everywhere: snoring, sighing, groaning, moaning, quarreling, complaining, crying, . . . everything but laughing and singing, as the mice in the upper world so often did.

Breathing a quick prayer, Chicory spoke up boldly: “Good morning, everyone! My name is Chicory Cheese! I’ve come to bring you some good news!”

Instantly, the cavern grew deathly silent. Only seconds later, he felt a face right up against his own, and two arms wrapped around him, hugging him. Then he heard a voice, a voice like someone crying in the wilderness: “Chicory, my dear boy, can it really be you!”

It was his Uncle Isaiah!

“Indeed it is, Uncle Isaiah,” exclaimed Chicory, with joy unspeakable.

“O Chicory,” said Isaiah, “has the Lord sent you?”

“Yes sir, he has.”

“Well, I always knew he would. But I must tell you,” said Isaiah, whispering in Chicory’s ear, “your job will not be easy. These mice have no memory of the upper world. They are sorrowful, confused, angry, blind, and unbelieving. You must brace yourself: they have to think of themselves as moles!”

Just then one of the mice stepped forward.

“Hey, it’s me, Mopey. Now we all know there’s no one down here named Chicory. So tell us the truth: Which mole are you?”

“I am telling the truth,” insisted Chicory. “I’m on an assignment from the Lord Jesus. He sent me down here to tell you about the world above, and to bring you back to it.”

“The world above! Now I know who you are! You’re a follower of Uncle Isaiah. We’ll, I have to admit, he’s a nice enough old mole, but I’m afraid that much learning has driven him mad. The stuff he says is just too good to be true. I’ll also admit that I like his poems. Sometimes I even wish there really was such a thing as sun, moon, and stars. But like I say, it’s all too good to be true. And all that talk about a good Lord who loves his creatures and has great plans for them! Yeah, that’s pretty interesting stuff . . . but way too good to be true . . . You say you’re from the world above, eh? Tell me a little more, brother mole; not too much, just a little.”

“Well,” said Chicory, “first of all, I’m not a mole. I’m a mouse. And for that matter, so are you!”

Now at this, a second mouse swiftly stepped forward. His name was Dopey. Sounding offended and indignant, he cried, “O no you don’t! You can’t fool me with that mouse stuff! I’m onto your game, mole. I’m way too smart for you. Moles we were, moles we are, moles we always will be. We are creatures of the earth, pure dirt, and proud of it! All this talk about us being mice, and being created for a world above! Why, you guys are just trying to make us dissatisfied with the world we have down here. You’re trying to stop us from improving it! You’re trying to stop us from creating the best of all possible worlds out of the only world we have. O no, brother Cheese, you can’t fool me! I’m way too smart for you!”

Being a pretty sharp mouse himself (and well schooled in Apologetics), Chicory was eager to reply. But before he could, still another mouse rose up. His name was Meany.

“Look, Chicken-hearted, or whatever your name is, we got no time for liars like you. Mopey’s right: No use us moles getting our hopes up. Dopey’s right: This is the only world there is. And I’m right: The Wolverine is king of this here pit, he gives us what we need, he’s big and strong and mean, and he’s taught us how to deal with dreamers like you who come around trying to turn everything upside down. So what’s it gonna be, Chicken-liver? Shut up, or beat up?”

Was Chicory getting scared? You bet! But I’m happy to report that at this point he did exactly the right thing.

“Lord Jesus” he prayed, “this a mess! What would you have me do?”

“Just as I say,” whispered the Lord. And in that very moment, Chicory’s mind filled with understanding. His course of action became crystal clear.

First, he thanked Mopey, Dopey, and Meany for sharing their point of view. Then he asked the whole cavern full of mice if he might have just a moment of their time to show them something interesting. Over Dopey and Meany’s objections, they all agreed and gathered round.

Still wrapped in deep darkness, Chicory quietly undid his knapsack, removed the candlestick, and opened up the box of matches. He took one out and struck it against the sandpaper.

Suddenly, the cavern blazed with light. The mice squealed and screeched and recoiled in pain, covering their blind eyes with their little hands. For a terrible moment, Chicory feared that he’d done something wrong!

But then something amazing began to happen: Now that Chicory had lit the candle, many of the mice started pulling back their hands! First they blinked, then they squinted, then they stared. Soon enough their eyes began adjusting to the soft glow of the candlelight. They saw the cavern (trust me, it wasn’t much to look at!). They saw Chicory’s face, with a big smile spread across it. For the first time ever, they saw each others faces. They even saw the twinkle in each others eyes. The mice grew quiet, thoughtful, even reverent.

The Lord leading, Chicory now took up his Bible, opened it to John, chapter 8, and spoke these words with feeling. “Brother mice, the Lord Jesus, who created the world above, and all the worlds, sent me here to help you. He’s the one who said, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ So, here’s what I think we should do: I’ll follow him, you follow me, and how’s about if we get out of this dumb pit and head straight for the world above!”

Now as you can well imagine, Uncle Isaiah and a great many of the mice were eager to do this very thing. What’s more, they had quite an adventure doing it, including a big battle with the wolverine. But since time is short, l must save that story for another time.

I will, however, tell you this: When at last they reached the top, the sky was growing pink with the dawn. Chicory sat them down to rest from their arduous journey, and encouraged them to enjoy the sunrise. When it finally came, for the first time in their lives everyone saw the light of the world, and beneath it, the beauty of the world above. And they wept for joy.

When the tears finally gave way to laughter, Mopey spoke up. “Chicory,” he said, “you were right and I was wrong. I am a mouse, not a mole. I was made for this beautiful world above, and not for that ugly one down below. Thank you, Chicory, for bringing me home.”

_____________

Later that night, when all the mice had returned to their families and Hickoryville was filled with joy, Chicory Cheese lay in bed, reflecting with great pleasure on the day’s events.

Suddenly, a light filled the room. The Lord was at hand.

“Chicory,” said the Lord.

“Here I am, Lord.”

“I have something to say to you.”

“Say it, Lord.”

“I am truly pleased. Chicory, you are such a faithful witness. And by the way: That was one of my best Christmas presents ever!”