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Free to Make a Choice, an Analogy from a Muskrat

Muskrat in leaf litter, photo credit: William Wise

[Originally published as Freeing the Captives: A Stuck Muskrat]

He was stuck tight in the ring of a chain-link fence. Even with Kevlar-lined leather gloves, I feared a piercing bite from those long, sharp, bark-shredding, rodent incisors. How could I pull this plump Muskrat out of his predicament without getting bit? Although my motive was to free him, there was nothing I could do to convince him that I meant him no harm.

Liberating this furry reddish-brown muskrat from his plight reminded me of the complexity of sharing the chain-breaking freedom in Jesus Christ.

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In our love, we wish to free others from the constricting grip of sin. But as we preach the full gospel, which includes not only Christ’s love and redemption, but also the need for repentance of sin, our listeners may misinterpret our motives and aren’t always sure we mean them no harm. Yet freeing others is a calling motivated by love, as is my mission to free this muskrat.

As rodents go, Muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus) are bigger than a rat, but smaller than a beaver. With their thick, double-layer of fur, they weigh in at a portly 1 to 4 pounds; just the right size to barely pass through, or, as in this case, get stuck in a chain-link fence!Muskrat head closeup, photo credit: William Wise

This guy was stuck in a fence surrounding a water retention pond. Preferring to burrow their homes in the banks of ponds and streams, muskrats have taken advantage of these man-made flood controlling constructions. My chubby muskrat must have gotten himself lodged when returning from grazing on the other side of the fence… where the grass is always greener!

Even we humans, the “crown of creation” and supposed most intelligent creatures, can be lured into captivity when we are “drawn away by our own lusts, and enticed” (James 1:14). We too fall captive to “the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side” mentality and chase fleeting fantasies into restricted areas that leave us trapped and in a helpless struggle.

We inevitably need someone to set us free.

As I approached to free this marooned muskrat, I could see his long, bald, vertically-flattened tail and backside trapped fast in the fence. He had given up on the struggle. Reducing the fence’s grip with the aid of bolt cutters, I was able to pull the exhausted critter free without much of a fight.

My now liberated muskrat didn’t immediately run off in freedom. His long exertion had drained his energy and he retreated briefly to recover under a nearby log. He eventually caught his breath, sensed his freedom, and scurried off towards a patch of concealing leaf litter near the water’s edge.

While they may not immediately embrace freedom, sharing God’s love and the truth of the freeing power of the blood of Jesus Christ does not return void. It will loosen the blinding grip of sin upon the human heart and free them to make a decision.

We may have a sense of frustration when some don’t immediately accept Christ, but we never know what will happen down the road. It is still our calling to preach the liberating gospel. As long as there is life there is a chance to decide for Christ. The fruit of our evangelistic efforts may not be immediate, but we never know what may take place.

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In my case, it was a full 12 months from when I first heard a true evangelistic witness to when I surrendered and received Christ.


Written by William Wise

Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club . -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations." Psalms 104, The Message.

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  1. Thanks for posting another article of mine! I really appreciate the Creation Club ministry. Besides the articles, it has given me an opportunity to converse directly with other creationists. God bless, William

  2. Such truth and great analogy. Often times we are fed lies or well intentioned misinformation and what seems good at the time ends up getting us stuck in some form or another, even if we are trying to go to a better place in life. It’s only through and with Christ that we are able to gain true freedom.

  3. It continues to amaze me how God can speak to us in and through every circumstance and situation! Reading this, I immediately thought of Isaiah 55:11, which reminds us that God’s word will not return void. It took me three years to surrender my life to Jesus Christ after hearing the Gospel.

    • Quite true Cole! One of my favorite quotes is: ​”If your heart is straight with God, then every creature will be to you a mirror of life and a book of holy doctrine.” Thanks for commenting! William

  4. Wow, AMAZING! The way you tied it all together blew me away! Sharing this with all my friends!
    Well done Mr. Wise well done!

  5. Another fantastic article! You pulled everything together into a very relatable analogy. Looking forward to the next one!

  6. Occasionally sharing the gospel with someone else can be just as liberating to the rescuer. I find myself sometimes after much trepidation
    Finally reaching out to someone in need. The fear of being bitten is all to real. Your insight is amazing.

  7. There’s hope for me even if I’m just a “bump on a log!” God may still use me to provide rest and cover for a weary, recovering muskrat.

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