CAN WE SEE GOD THROUGH OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ANIMALS?

Now there’s a question that can bring up a lot of differing ideas and opinions.  And not one that I intend to attempt giving a dogmatic answer to.  But what I can do is share something that has been occurring with me for a few months now.

          Outside of my woodworking shop I have a canvas carport with side covering that I use as a place to store my lumber.  One morning last August I stepped out of my shop and saw something move near an outside bottom corner of that structure.      I thought perhaps it was a cat or maybe a rabbit.  As I stepped around that corner to see what it was there sat the skelton of a cat, covered with hide and hair, but not much else.  As I moved toward him, he shied away, but after a few soft words he allowed me to pick him up.  His eyes were matted with mucus and when he breathed bubbles came from his nostrils.  I could tell this small animal was very close to death.  I had my cell phone on me, so I called Cathy, my wife who was in the house and told her what was happening.  She came out, took one look at the little guy and said, “You have to take him to the vet.”

          Anyone who knows us knows that we’re not long on money.  Taking a stray cat to the vet meant spending money we really couldn’t afford.  But as I stood there holding and looking at this sick and starving cat, I knew I couldn’t just let him die, which he was very close to doing.  So, after feeding him a small amount of cat food from our own spoiled cat, we put an old shop towel in the bottom of a cardboard box and I took him to the vet.  He had serious upper respiratory infection and truly was almost starved to death.  They gave him a shot, some medicine and sent medicine home with me.  We, Cathy and I, had to put drops in his eyes twice a day and give him a big capsule each day, as well as keep him warm, safe and fed. 

          The days and weeks went by.  The cat, who was a little tom, began to get well and gain some weight.  As he settled in he became very loving and playful.  After a few weeks and after much discussion about what to do with him we took him back to the vet to have him neutered and vaccinated and get him registered.  We had decided to keep him.

          Now to the point of all of this.  As he got well and grew and grew into a secure home, we began to notice that he always wanted to be where I was.  He followed me around more like a puppy dog than a cat.  That’s been going on for some months now.  He may be my cat, but more to the point, I’m his human.  When he comes to me for me to love on him, I can sense that he knows I saved him.  I saved his life and he not only knows it, he is grateful and shows that gratitude by wanting to be near me and wanting me to love on him. 

          One day, as I reached down and picked him up, this thought occurred to me:  “Is this anything like our relationship to God?”  How theologically correct is what I’m about to say?   Maybe not very.  Then again, I feel compelled to share it.   I saved that cat’s life.  No question about it.  God saved mine and there’s no question about that either.  I saved that cat, not because I needed or even wanted a cat, but because of love in my heart.  (Not bragging.  That’s just the truth).  My heart just couldn’t stand by and let him die.  Throw stones at me if you think I’m wrong about this, but I see God at the Garden of Eden after His masterpiece of creation sinned.  Death was the penalty.  But His heart just wouldn’t let Him stand by and do nothing.  His heart dictated that He had to save them.  Not all come to the edge of His lumber yard, sick and starving.  But for those who do, (and He’s calling the rest), for those of us that come to Him, He saves us.  And here’s where I think of the cat.  He comes to me regularly, almost constantly, not just wanting me to love on him, but I think he’s there showing me how much he loves me and thanks me for saving his life.

          Sometimes I have misunderstood prayer.  This cat has taught me that God isn’t so concerned about my problems.  He knows all about my needs and will meet my needs just the same as I will tend to the needs of this cat.  What I need to do is show God my love and gratitude every minute of every day.  He sent His Son to save my life.  He will care for my needs.  My cat has shown me what it looks like to love and appreciate God for the love with which He has loved us.

Just my thoughts,

Clint Webb

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Draw Near While Being Separated

Following is an article written by Dr. Randy Spencer, Associate Professor at Liberty University School of Divinity, Dr. Spencer is also the father of my Pastor, Rob Spencer.  This article is reprinted here with Dr. Spencer’s permission.

The Coronavirus reminds me how quickly things can change. Life as we knew it a few weeks ago has changed dramatically for everyone. Just a few days ago it was “business as usual” and now nothing seems usual or ordinary. Unprecedented changes are taking place in every aspect of life and we are forced to make decisions that have altered our daily routine.

Typically when we face adversity and crisis the natural thing to do is to draw together. I remember the crisis of 9/11 when our nation was under attack. As the towers of the New York World Trade Center were falling people were being drawn together. People crowded the churches while neighbors and families clung to each other. There were tears and hugs as crowds embraced each other for comfort and encourage. We have always gotten through hard times by drawing close. Is it not strange indeed that this crisis drives us apart? There is a “no touch” “no gatherings” mandate. Isolation, separation and a six foot distance is the national norm.

Due to this highly contagious virus normal activity and personal contact must cease. In a moment our world just stopped. We are hearing words and phrases like “social distancing” and “quarantine”. Many Americans are finding themselves isolated from family and friends and facing days of lock down. All unessential businesses, clubs, restaurants, parks, schools, theaters, social gatherings and even churches are all closed. We are encouraged to “stay home”. There is a fear of being in contact with people and things. Have you ever been more aware of what your hands are touching? Can God be sending a message to us? Can God have a divine purpose in what is happening in our country?  Can God be using the Coronavirus to remind us that the earthly things we have grown to love and hold so tightly are empty and temporary? Even our earthly relationships can keep us from what is most valuable and enduring. Can God be saying, “Hey, let’s take a break from the world for just a moment and stop long enough to look at what is eternal and everlasting? God’s message to us is clear. Our hope is not in people or things. It is in God alone and He is the One we turn to in times of crises. “I will say of my Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust” Psalms 91:2 “Be still and know that I am God”? Psalms 46:10.

May I submit to you that there is One whom you must draw close to in times of separation and isolation. One who carries no virus or health threat? More specifically, this One is totally pure and absolutely untouched by anything infectious. This is One who is calling us to “social closeness” and even intimacy. In a time when we are admonished to keep our distance from one another there is One who welcomes our closeness. You may draw as close to Him as His very breath and hear the sound of His heartbeat. You can touch His hand and His face and sense the warmth of His presence. He is pure and holy and altogether lovely.

Hebrews 10:22 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”

James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”

Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace”

Psalms 73:28 “But for me it is good to be near God”

 

But before we endeavor to draw close to Him there is one important requirement. Another phrase we are hearing repeatedly during this virus crisis is “Wash your hands!”  If we desire to draw close to God we must also come with “clean hands and pure hearts” Psalms 24:4 “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is vanity …”

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”. Hebrews 10:19-22

Through the blood sacrifice of Jesus we can now approach this holy God by washing our infectious sins away.

Pray that this unusual time of isolation and social distancing will draw our nation close to our God and Savior Jesus Christ. God’s message to us is, “Run to Me!” “Seek Me while I am near!”

Psalms 91:15 “When he calls to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him”                        

We can experience revival and renewed faith if we heed to the message God is sending to us.

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