of the stray cat
While working on our
house one fall, I often noticed a certain stray cat wandering through the
woods. I was always outside and grew fond of seeing that cat. At some point
I decided to try attracting its attention with some tidbits of food. Considering
the fine treats I was setting out, it took quite a while for the cat to
venture very close. I don't know, maybe I'm pretty frightening by cat standards.
When my wife found out
that I had attracted the interest of a cat, she went crazy. She was immediately
in love with it. Maybe it's because we had some cats run away before; maybe
it's because that's just my wife. Suddenly my tidbits on the driveway got
replaced with a huge tin of food. She'd pour out a half-bag of cat food
at a time just inside the garage, and then beg that we leave the doors open
at night just in case "her kitty" got hungry.
This continued for several
months leading into winter. Sometimes I'd be out there at night and see
beady little raccoon eyes lurking just outside the light of the garage.
Several times a possum came trotting right on in. Once I even saw a deer
run out of the garage during the day. But because our goal was to provide
for that cat, we accepted the fact our food was also going to feed everything
else that was willing to come around.
One night, a terrible
ice storm was beginning. It would end up leaving five inches of ice in certain
places and almost 270,000 homes without power. Our power was already gone
and we were preparing to leave for a motel. As we headed out the door, there
was the cat. It was soaking wet and sitting two feet in front of us. I was
hesitant about the cat's ability to be a good indoor pet, but with temperatures
well below freezing, my wife pleaded its case. She promised that she'd clean
up after it, take care of any messes it made, and "teach it to be a good
kitty". So I agreed with her to bring it inside.
It pained my wife that
circumstances were going to force us to leave the cat alone for a short
time, but where we were going it couldn't come. We set it up in the partially
finished basement with all the basic necessities (in great relative comfort
I might add), and rejoined it in a day or two.
For the first few weeks,
that cat was as loving and grateful as could be. But soon enough, it violated
my strict furniture and cleanliness rules. If it were only a case of my
rules, that cat would have gone right back outside after the very first
accident. The only reason it didn't, the only reason it's now a permanent
resident is not because it deserved to be there, but because I love my wife,
and my wife loves that cat. I can hardly look at that cat without seeing
my precious wife's smiling face.
My wife is that cat's
faithful savior; rescuing it from one misdeed after another, placing its
shortcomings on her own shoulders, and asking for my mercy and love on the
cat's behalf. Lucky for the cat, this judge always rules in his wife's favor.
What are the gospel parallels here?
Just as I had sought
out the cat, God seeks us out. There is no achievement we have done
or can do to win the Father's love. He simply loves us.
Just as the cat at first
kept its distance, it can take time for people to lose their misconceptions
of God. Some people take time to come to a knowledge or awareness of God;
to realize what he can really offer over that of their own efforts.
Just as my wife became
devoted to loving that cat, Jesus is incredibly devoted toward loving
us. He showers us with blessings; so many that even people who don't
have much interest in him get blessed right along with us.
Just as the storm left
our front porch that cat's only chance for survival, so the awareness of
our true position before God leaves Jesus our only hope for salvation.
Just as my wife took
responsibility for all the cat's shortcomings to win my approval to let
it in the house, Jesus took responsibility for all of our sins on the
cross to allow us the privilege of entering into heaven.
And just as love for
my wife assures that the cat will never leave our care, the love between
the Father and the Son assures us that we, too, will never be out of God's
care. Jesus continually intercedes for us before the Father, and,
fortunate for us, the Father always rules in favor of the Son.