Day 3 of our agonizing game of hide and seek with our escaped cat dawned a few hours ago. I didn’t sleep much last night. It was more than the night before, which was spent in fitful bursts of tearful prayer interspersed with tossing and turning. Yesterday’s headache is back. A cat should probably not cause this much emotional distress, but this isn’t just *any* cat.
Jack was placed in our path at a time we were in no position to take on another pet, let alone one that would need so much attention. I almost didn’t see him huddled in a little black ball in the parking space we were turning into, but a tiny flash of white from his paws caught my eye in time to avoid disaster. It was 95° in that north Florida parking lot, and we were headed to Disney World the next day. However, when God puts an animal in need directly in front of you, you don’t say no. Thankfully, we were able to leave him temporarily in the care of my well-seasoned cat nurse aunt, and while we didn’t think his tiny little three-week-old body would survive the night, he has spent the last six years being spoiled into the oversized (but yet very healthy) cat that torments me today.
I’ve always been a cat person. Sure, dogs are great, but there’s something about cats that I identify with, and on the rare occasions that I’ve been blessed to find a cat I truly “clicked” with, I have gotten attached to a degree that is probably unhealthy. However, that’s how God wired me, and since there’s nothing sinful about it, I’m going to accept it for the bittersweet blessing it is. I’ve had the privilege of finding only two such feline companions during my lifetime, even though we have had many cats in our family. Jack is the second. He truly is MY cat; the girls love him to pieces, but there is no doubt who Jack’s person is. He spent several months curling up around my shoulders, sticking to me like velcro, and following me around more like a dog than a cat. Jack was the one who stayed by my side at all hours of the night after my surgeries, making sure I had a purring blanket even when I didn’t even want one. He would insist on me taking his can of food into the bathroom, where he would eat while I bathed, every night. This cat owns a rather large piece of my heart.
Not having that these last few days is tearing me apart. We truly have done everything we can think of to do to get him back home. We’ve posted on both Facebook and our Nextdoor group, spoken with all of the neighbors (well, the ones who would answer their doors; 😒 we left notes for the others), walked the neighborhood calling him all hours of the day and night, left food and his litter pan and even laundry outside.
This is an awful feeling, to know that he is probably so close that he can hear us calling him. He’s the type of cat who hides silently when he’s scared instead of running, so he’s likely within range of our voices. But yet, nothing for three days, other than one neighbor who saw him run away when she approached him. There’s not much more we can do other than to pray that God will keep him safe and to keep doing what we’re doing.
As I often do when I’m kept awake in the wee, silent hours of the morning, I’ve been pondering what possible lesson God would want me to glean from this experience. What else other than worry do I have to do? How about the standard, “What would Jesus do?” Well, actually …
I’m doing what Jesus would do. I’m doing what He DID do. And now I get to experience this waiting game from His perspective, to some tiny extent.
You see, God knew before He ever spoke the world into existence that I was going to get lost. He knew we all would. And yet, just as I knew when I decided that I was going to take in that tiny kitten that would one day shatter my heart into a million pieces, He created this hot mess of humanity anyway. Jesus knew, before He ever left the splendor of Heaven to show us what pure, selfless love looks like, that the majority of us would choose to stay lost rather than to reach out in faith to the only One who can bring us home to our Father. He knew.
As I’m sitting here typing this, there is a storm building outside. Our other animals are safe and warm and dry in here with us, but Jack is not. That very fact has my stomach in knots. I want SO badly for him to just come out so we can find him and bring him home. I want him to be able to rest where his stomach is full and he is loved. But he won’t move, because he’s afraid. He’s choosing the cold and wet hiding spot he is in over the true safety of home because he’s too afraid to come out. And his family is in agony, knowing that his life is growing shorter by the hour, all because he refuses to take the risk of going toward the voice that has grown hoarse from calling him.
Why do we do this to God? Why do we insist that we’re *fine* where we are, while the dangers around us threaten to steal our souls away? Why can’t we just step out of the place we’re hiding and let Him bring us home, where we will be safe and loved and protected? There’s a sad sense of false security in the tight confines of what we can see and feel and touch in the here and now. Stepping out of our spiritual hiding place makes us vulnerable. What if we’re made fun of, or ostracized, or what if … what if we have to take a stand against the comfort and convenience of sin? What if I’m hated? What if I’m threatened? What if I lose everything?
The scary thing about faith is that it doesn’t remove the storm that we have to endure. This life is still going to have its fair share of pain and suffering. That prosperity gospel thing? Yeah, umm, sorry to say it isn’t biblical. Jesus never promised a carefree life here. Because He isn’t trying to keep us here; He’s trying to bring us HOME. To a life beyond all this.
Just as we need Jack to come out of hiding for us to be able to get him back home, God needs for us to move. He’s already lit the way, opened the door, and He will even send people to help get us home. We just need to step out of what we are hiding in.