Over the past year or so, a feral cat has visited our back door on a regular basis. She is uncanny in her ability to know, not only that I am cooking something, but that I am thinking about cooking something. The cat’s interest in our back door has been the subject of numerous conversations between Sharon and me. For my own part, I try not to make eye contact with her. Nevertheless, in spite of my very astute observations to my wife that the more we feed this cat the more likely it will be to show up at our door, bags of cat food keep appearing in the garage. For the past couple of weeks or so, the cat has been bringing her three kittens with her to the back door. I suppose she is teaching them how to hunt.
Recently Sharon wrote down her reflections on her relationship with this cat, and, with her permission, I share them with you:
“When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant,
I was like a beast toward you.”
That little feral cat. She comes to my back door begging for food. She trusts me only far enough to believe I will give her something to eat. I’ve done it enough that she expects sustenance. But she does not trust me enough to believe I have no evil intent toward her. She keeps her distance—hissing even as I set the food down—food she did not stalk or hunt in her own strength. She is a brute beast before my kindness and watch care. She does not trust me because she does not know me. She only knows I am one source that gives freely, but she will never give herself to me; she will only take what she wants from me. We will never really be friends. She will approach my door only when her stomach growls and never for my company.
I see myself in that feral cat, Lord. I come to your holy place only when my “stomach growls.” You have provided for me in everything. So much so that I expect it; I know your provision is true. Still, I go off and “hunt,” working for you, attempting to accomplish tasks of eternal worth in my limited and earthly strength, in my fallen personality, my earthly wisdom. When I am empty I stare into the window of your back door, waiting for you to notice, gesturing through my stuttering supplication, appealing for your attention—just long enough to receive provision from your hand. But, when you come near to feed me, I take it but do not linger to thank you or know you. Your faithfulness does not soften my heart to come regularly for fellowship and tender love. I come only for an occasional snack, not for the whole feast. I am a brute beast before you. Circumcise my heart, Lord. Teach me to love you, to cherish you. Train, tame my resistant, proud heart.
“Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
You hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
What is it about the human heart that would rather have what God gives, than God himself? I find this to be too often true of myself. He, not what he gives, is the life that all of us need, and he offers himself freely to us; yet we are content with so much less than what he offers. Truly we are brutish and ignorant, failing to recognize the treasure that he is. Yet, those who have put their trust in Christ are his children, and he continues to hold us by our right hand, even when we fail to appreciate him or recognize the inestimable value that is in simply knowing him and being with him. The apostle John writes of the great hope we have, that the time is coming when we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2) and, as the Psalmist says, “afterward we will be with him in glory.” In the meantime, may we not be like the cat, content only with what he gives and missing out on the richness of what is already ours in Christ. May we discover what Abraham discovered, in the words of Hannah Whiteall Smith, “At last God was everything to him; and then he found that God was enough.”1
1Hannah Whiteall Smith, The God of All Comfort, (Barbour Publishing, 2013 Ed.), 156.
Pastor Jon EnrightAugust 1, 2018