If you’re a cat-hater, bear with me. We love our cats around here; we have 3 of them at the moment.
There’s Buckwheat (aka Jack) who’s the old man of the clan. He turns 16 in a couple of months. He moves slowly. His head is constantly crooked. He is truly the cat with nine lives, I think. He has been almost dead on a number of occasions, but has always risen to the challenge of staying alive.
There’s Booboo (aka Princess Boudica). She has been gracious enough to allow us to be her staff. We are permitted to feed her daily. We may also provide a soft lap for her comfort when she is cold. When she is outside on a nice day, she is beyond adorable…all chatty and affectionate. The rest of the time she tolerates our existence.
Then there’s Tux. He never shuts up. He likes to hunt in the woods around our house. He never shuts up. He’s very affectionate. He both idolizes and annoys Buckwheat. And did I mention that he never shuts up?
This morning as I was drinking my coffee outside, I noticed that someone (Tux, I imagine) brought us a gift. A dead bird. *sigh* A few days ago he brought me a dead snake. *double sigh* He really seems to think that either he’s giving us beautiful presents (“No really, you shouldn’t have!”) or else that we need his help to provide food for the family.
Aren’t we like that sometimes with God? We never shut up. We yammer at God all the time and forget to listen when we’re “praying.” We go off under our own strength, with our very limited understanding, and we do stuff that we think will help God out, or perhaps will be a lovely present for Him. But we do it all without having a real clue what God is doing in the first place. And we don’t have the perspective to see that the dead animal we just gave Him (virtually busting our buttons with pride in our righteous accomplishment) is….well, a dead animal.
Other times we’re like Booboo. When the sun is shining and we’re feeling the love, we are affectionate with Him, enjoy His presence, and look all sweet. When we’re feeling cold we climb into His lap (on our terms, mind you….He might as well not bother calling us to come. We find that call intrusive. We’ll get to Him when it’s convenient.) The rest of the time we tolerate His existence. We allow Him to take really good care of us, and most of the time we give it no thought of gratitude; it’s His job, anyway, isn’t it?
I think I want to be like Buckwheat.
Buckwheat’s got the perspective of years in our family. He trusts in our provision for him, and doesn’t even bother to ask for food; he’s quietly confident that it will be there before his blood sugar dips too low. He doesn’t make a lot of noise (actually, his meower sounds like it’s just about worn-out) but he regularly walks up and just rubs against us, giving us a kitty kiss of affection and trust.
He walks around outside enjoying the beautiful home he has here, and when a stray cat wanders onto the property he is unafraid to tell him to leave; he knows who belongs here and who doesn’t.
His head is crooked because he’s been really sick in the past, and he knows what it is to recover; he’s at peace with his scars because they remind him of powerful ground he has traveled. He’s not the prettiest, fastest, sleekest cat around, but he’s comfortable in his own skin.
He’s got these younger cats around him who are annoying sometimes in their immaturity, but he doesn’t feel the need to straighten them out or embarrass them or put them in their place; he just lets them grow bit by bit. He knows they’ll grow up eventually; he trusts that the process of life works.
I love all my kitties. I know Tux means well when he brings me a disgusting dead animal. The trouble is that he simply isn’t capable of growing in understanding. He’s a cat, and the human mind is never going to be within his grasp.
I know Booboo loves me in her own selfish way. She has come such a long way from the traumatized, angry, aggressive kitty she was when she first came to live with us. She’d been hurt where she lived before, and it showed. She’s got a lot more mellowing to do, but I can see how much our love for her has already changed her for the better.
The cool thing that makes us different from the cats:
God doesn’t just love us with gracious understanding like I love my kitties. He sees us in our limitedness and He loves us and smiles at our feeble attempts to protect ourselves from pain or to provide for our own needs or to share our problem-solving strategies with Him.
But then He goes beyond that and He gives us HIS OWN NATURE in the gift of redemption through Jesus. He gives us the mind of Christ so that our understanding can grow with each year that we know Him. We eventually come to see that those dead animals are….well, dead animals, that our constant yammering is not really conversation with our Father, that it’s wonderful to be quiet in His presence.
He gives us Himself — He who IS LOVE — so that we begin to drop our defenses first with Him (“You called, Lord? Here I am…what’s up?”) and then with others as His love fills us and flows through us. We can be affectionate in the sunshine or in the darkness.
And He gives us the ability to learn from our years, to respect that the process of life works, so that we can be gentle, loving and hopeful for the little ones around us. The same Father who has done such good things in us is at work in them. Oh, sure…they’re annoying sometimes. But we love ’em anyway.
They’ll outgrow it.