One day she just appeared; a scraggly kitten with fluffy black fur, yellow eyes that shone out of her head like spotlights, and a fear of man. My heart went out to her. I wanted to hold her, comfort her, but every time we opened the door she fled. By and by she didn’t run as far as fast. Eventually she tolerated a mini-petting but only while she was eating and shrunk a little when she realized it was a human hand stroking her back. With time and meat broth, our little kitty became a smidge more amicable.
From Thanksgiving on, all of our pets received a little fat or skin or tantalizing scrap on a semi-regular basis. It was then that I noticed that Whiskers (Rachel named her that on account of how her bleach-white whiskers stood out against the black of her furry face) was a lot more amicable. She would forego the food and reach up my leg for a petting first. She chose contact with me before the filling of her belly. I smiled to myself as I realized I had won the heart of a rejected, lost animal. A sense of small wonder welled up inside of me for the simple yet complex trust that had been cultivated between us.
One Saturday morning, she was here, like always, then that Saturday night, no sign of her. Sunday morning and Sunday evening passed without sighting of her. I lay in bed that night, fretting. What if someone had taken her? What if a bird of prey or a coyote had snatched this little one?
“I was in the garage yesterday,” Bob offered. “Maybe she followed me in.”
I was about to jump out of bed and go open the garage to see if she were there.
“Then again, I was right back in it to put stuff away and I didn’t see her.”
My heart sank again.
“Should I go look?” I asked.
“If she’s in the garage, she’s safe. Check tomorrow.”
I admit, I fretted a little longer, but if God’s eye is on the sparrow, wouldn’t it be on this stray who tugged on my heart?
The next morning, I checked. I was kind of afraid of what I would or wouldn’t find but the driving force to know drove out all other fears. I unlocked the door, stepped inside, and queried, “Whiskers?”
And there she was, sleeping on foam we had trimmed from a mattress. She gave a slight stretch and a yawn to match, and then happily came to greet me, wrapping herself around my ankles, purring. I stooped to pet her, (she still resists being picked up), and couldn’t contain the joy in my voice that she was safe. Her day and a half adventure proved her none the worse for wear. Surprisingly, she didn’t vault for water and food as I anticipated but continued to circle my legs and purr and beg for my affection. I was astounded. But no more than I was a couple of days later when…
I lifted her onto a bale of hay so that I could pet our orange Tiggs and her at the same time. Tail-end facing me, I rubbed and rubbed her head and neck. Amazingly, she was so engrossed in my administrations that she lay parallel on my arm, only the pads of her feet of her sidelong body grazed the side of the bale of hay, I suppose giving her the sense that it was still beneath her. My arm bore her full weight and was her only support. Had I picked her up and tried to cradle her, she would have wriggled and fought to be free, but she had no realization so totally rested on me. I couldn’t help myself, I stood there and wondered at it all because I sensed there was so much here than what met the eye.
Enter: Jags. Our heavy weight gray cat. I was on the way to tend our other animals so didn’t stop to love on him right at that moment. I had fully intended to scoop him up, straddle him over my arm longways (just like he likes) where he’d hang like a limp 10 lb. jacket, head dangling over the tips of my fingers, and pet the purr right out of him. When I returned, he was not along the path waiting for me. That was odd. I called for him, he did not come. Do you know where I found him? Sitting in the middle of the highway in front of our house. I’m talkin’ on the yellow lines, with his back turned toward me, ignoring my calls, as the sound of oncoming traffic in the distance was getting closer and closer. The insolence! The impudence! The audacity! The picture of *gasp*…me? Not me, LORD. Oh, yes, Christi, you. ouch, Ouch, and OUCH!
The Jags part of me is impatient. The Jags part of me wants answers now and in triplicate. The Jags part of me knows that I am loved and wanted but sometimes I want loved and wanted when I want loved and wanted and I want to experience it in my own way. And sometimes when that doesn’t happen, I go sit in the middle of the highway with my back to the LORD, while the enemy approaches, as if to say, “You didn’t answer me, I can’t hear You”.
Oh, that’s awful, Christi. And stupid. Yes, yes it is. But there’s something very liberating about confession so today is my day of liberation. Here’s another confession: I don’t wholly trust the LORD but I want to. I’ve been doing some serious soul searching as to why I feel this way. I think it basically boils down to the thing about the answers. I know I have faith, I do, so then why do the answers not come in stride with my faith? Hmm…
That’s when God Whispers are so cool. That’s when He gently comes and wraps me in His arms, and we have a discussion, He and I. This faith walk has been so hard because I have made it that way. Think about it: God gave me life. I did not create myself. It’s His breath I breathe. However, I get to choose how to live this life and since I chose Jesus, He’s a vital part of nearly every part of me.
Here’s the dawning: God also gave me faith. I could not create it on my own. It, too, is a gift from my Creator. But I took responsibility for my faith as though it’s very existence depended on me, so when it failed to produce the results I anticipated, I felt condemnation and, more often than not, frustration at myself, God, or both. That’s where I erred. As absurd as it sounds, I wasn’t including Him in this facet of my Christian walk. I took His gift of faith on as a one-man-show instead of the partnership that it was meant to be. It’s His faith that works in me, but I was carrying the burden of working it alone. And what a burden!
God began to explain to me in a way I could understand, in terms of a garden. He makes the seed; I plant it. I give it the best environment that I can by planting it in nourished, fertile soil, where it will receive the appropriate sunlight, weed it, and water it when it doesn’t rain. But I cannot make the sun. I cannot make it grow. Like Adam in the Garden, I am responsible to tend my seed of faith and to guard it, but I can’t make it grow or produce answers by sheer will. The explanation God sent in the form of a garden and visuals of my feline friends were priceless pictures of what I was doing. What a loving, gentle, and patient Savior! I was never meant to carry my faith alone. Thank God!
I was also complicating my faith by “formulas” and was thereby bewildered as to why it didn’t “work”. That’s when God showed me that the formula for faith is actually quite simple: BELIEVE. And I show that I believe by providing the environment that faith needs to grow. So faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. I fill my surroundings with the Word, prayer, obedience, praise, and proclamations and release (and that is key) all of the growth to the Son.
I also need to be careful that I am seeking God’s heart, not only His hand, just like Whiskers did after her stay in the garage. I get so desperate sometimes, especially when someone in my family or I am suffering physically, that I allow myself to be consumed with the gifts rather than the Giver. I don’t believe God is disappointed with me when this happens, it at least shows that I know He provides. But my attitude has got to be right. I cannot be so consumed by my needs/wants that our fellowship goes by the wayside and my soul begins to shrink.
And then there was the picture of Whiskers resting on my arm although she was totally unaware of it. Why? Because she was consumed with love.
That there is my ultimate goal: consumed with His love. Not that I haven’t experienced it, but I want to live there on a continuous basis. To bask in His presence in such a way would be Heaven on earth. And isn’t that part of our LORD’s prayer? Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…
Ah, to know Him, to love Him, to rest in Him and let the growing up to Him–this is my heart’s desire.
Rest and be thankful. ~William Wordsworth
Bask in God’s love with me through the song Just Be Held by Casting Crowns.