More Christians Should Be Like My Cat
Here’s the truth …
“your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48 NLT).
There’s a lot we can learn from the animals in our lives if we would take the time to let them teach us. One day, a while back, I took the time to “research” the ways of my cat, Ophelia. She passed away this past year after 17 glorious years of getting to know her precious personality, so I consider this a way that she can live on. Even if you are not a cat lover, you’ve got to read this. She was extraordinary and taught me so much, believe it or not, about how to be a better Christian.
Whenever I would sit down, she immediately would jump onto my lap and begin purring. It’s as though she had been waiting all day to get to be with her master. And once her master appeared, she wanted to be in her presence and wouldn’t leave unless her master chose to get up and walk away. We could learn from that as Christians, because we should be so eager each and every day to be in the presence of our Father. We should crave it with such intensity and should hold Him practically hostage until we are certain that He hears us. Her passion for resting on her master’s lap reminds me of the fierce desire for healing that the woman with the issue of bleeding had that she chased after Jesus, hoping that touching Him would bring restoration to her body that she craved: “A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped” (Luke 8:43-44 NLT). Her tenacity paid off. Jesus later told her: “your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48 NLT). We should chase after our Lord with the same spirit of being made well for every new day.
Ophelia would also feel quite comfortable leaving her messes around the house with not a bit of guilt, allowing me to clean up after her to my heart’s content. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we let God take care of our troubling messes like that? Perhaps they wouldn’t get so out of control if we sought His help beforehand, too. Ophelia would do that, sometimes. She would meow incessantly when she was hungry but would run away when food was put down for her. That was her way of letting me know that her belly was upset and to watch for a mess to ensue later. And I would never hold a grudge against her for these messes, even though they were an annoyance. That’s just like God. He never holds a grudge against us when we sin. God’s Word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
And if you have ever cleaned up hairballs, you will see that one of two choices created the mess. It could be that she ate something she was not supposed to and it didn’t sit well with her. But it could also be the result of her simply cleaning herself and trying to live the right way. That’s just like our sin. Sometimes we sin when we really were intentionally trying to do the right thing by somebody else. Ever withhold information or outright lie so that you can protect the feelings of someone else? Those would be the times when you might have a hairball of a mess later, but your intentions were good and you might even think the mess was worth it in the end. The outright vomit would resemble the times when she put her nose where it didn’t belong. And you know where your nose belongs and doesn’t belong. You have the Holy Spirit inside of you, guiding your conscience, just as Jesus promised: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” (John 14:16 NLT).
Ophelia was also very intentional about letting me know her needs. She would meow incessantly when she was hungry, would jump onto my lap when she needed time with me, or would stand by the door, looking longingly at me when she wanted to go outside, with each need accompanied by a distinct meow. This resembles prayer. There are prayers that we need to make as Christians that are fervent, like when Ophelia was starving and wanted to be fed. There are prayers that are direct and forthright, and these would be when Ophelia required lap time. It was though she needed my full attention—but not for anything other than to know that I was there. The need for reassurance is within all of us, especially to know that we are forgiven when we sin. And God is always eager to provide what we need. Lastly, there are prayers for when we act out. Sometimes Ophelia would be very rambunctious and would race in circles around the house. She’d chase her tail, wadded-up pieces of paper, plastic rings from the milk jug, or even the red dot from a presentation pointer. If those dances wouldn’t do the trick, we’d realize that she should go outside to burn off some bottled-up energy. This is the kind of prayer we use when we are agitated about something and need to calm down. All of those “prayers” really summed up Ophelia’s typical day. And what’s wonderful about that was she made visual for me what God’s Word tells us to do: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).
Finally, rest. Ophelia did a lot of that. And there would be times when she was resting so peacefully that if I called to her, she wouldn’t come to me but would stay resting. I wouldn’t get upset but would gather that she must really need to recharge her batteries. In doing so, she was actually doing what God modeled for us by making His seventh day of Creation a day of rest (Genesis 2:2). It was all part of His plan. He created you, me, Ophelia, and rest!
I loved this cat with all my heart. As you can see, she really was human in so many ways. And I think of her every time I just need to feel the Father’s arms around me. She was never embarrassed to need her master, to ask for help, to make messes, or to invite me into her world. We need to do the same with our Master—passionately, consistently, and without guilt. Thanks for a life well lived, Ophelia.
… and that’s the truth as I know it!