by Paul Benson
I live in a part of the nation where most ‘manly’ men drive a big pick-up truck with a big slobbering dog riding happily in the back. Although I would not consider myself less than manly, I have to confess I have neither the big truck nor the dog. What I do have is a small Ford Ranger and two very spoiled cats. Neither of which are very keen on riding in a vehicle. I had never been a cat lover in times past, and was well into my 50’s before I ever kept one for a pet. Then about five years ago a neighbor (trying to pawn off the kittens from the latest litter of his overly fertile and unfixed cat) suggested I take one as a solution to a mouse problem I was having. Reluctantly I agreed.
It wasn’t too long before, much to my surprise, this cat and I became quite good friends. I named her Baby Kitty (I know, quite clever of me), but eventually circumstances dictated I needed to change her name to Mama Kitty. And so, being the thoughtful person I am, I decided to keep one of her kittens so she could have someone to pal around with. And yes. she was crowned the new Baby Kitty. And yes, they have both been fixed so this Baby Kitty should never need a new name. As time has progressed I have grown very fond of these creatures. And, remarkably, I have discovered these cats have an amazing talent. They both have the ability to preach!
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Romans 1:20
I have found it takes a while to truly earn a cat’s trust. But once you do they are very loyal and affectionate. I was surprised to learn their personalities are so very distinct, and diverse from one another. And the level of interaction goes a lot deeper than just, ‘Hey, this is the guy who feeds us, so let’s hang out with him’. Each of my cats has some very evident traits which the other shows little sign of, as well as the things that they do have in common, like their preaching.
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. Luke 11:5-8
In this parable Jesus was teaching on the value of importunity (persistence) in our approach of God in prayer. Although Mama shows little interest in this ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’ approach, Baby Kitty has this one down pat. Whereas Mama Kitty’s voice is a soft and gentle, ‘mew, mew’, her daughter’s is certainly not!
Her voice is more of a whiny high-pitched cry that sometimes makes people wonder if she has been injured. A loud drawn-out obnoxious ME-OW!, ME-OW!, ME-OW!, that does not stop until the door is opened, or her dish is replenished, or whatever else she thinks to be an emergency has been dealt with. Although it gets to be a little aggravating (particularly when I’m laying in bed with a pillow over my head at 5 o’clock in the morning trying to ignore her), I do have to admit I admire her persistence. She preaches to me a little sermon on importunity each and every day. Whether I want to hear it or not!
And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me… … bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: …5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: Judges 7:2-7
For a long time I wondered about God’s method of further whittling down Gideon’s army (originally 32,000, but now 10,000); to finally only 300 men. I could definitely see the way Israel was encouraged to rally against their enemy by what God accomplished through only 300 men; but why the distinction over how they drank from the water? The answer is in the circumspection (circumference + inspect) their manner of drinking showed. These men did not let down their guard even for a brief moment to take a drink.
While every one else had their faces in the water, and their backsides in the air, these 300 were bringing the water up to their mouths so they could maintain an awareness of their surroundings. These ‘alert ones’ were the troops God chose to spearhead this assault on the enemy. This awareness of the state of ones surroundings is crucial to any soldier in battle; and although the wisdom of circumspection is promoted in many areas of New Testament teaching, I see slim evidence of it in the modern American Christian. But I do see times coming which shall force a resurgence of this noble trait in our midst.
Back to my preachy felines.
Cats have some very unique abilities. Both my cats can sleep through an abundance of everyday ordinary household noise (dishes and pans clattering when being washed or put away, doors opened and closed, even vacuuming). But either will bolt wide-awake on high alert at the faintest noise that is out of the ordinary. And they will stay (especially Mama) on high alert until they are satisfied there is no predator or prey that needs contended with.
Mama Kitty has a very strange habit that I have never noticed in another cat. If she is in this heightened sense of circumspection while at her water dish, she does not put her face in the dish but, while sitting there looking around, will actually dip her paw in the water and lift it up to her mouth to drink! As cats have no ‘palm’ to cup and fill with water I am not sure how effective a method this is. She is basically just wetting her paw and slurping the water out of the fur, but she does lift her foot to her mouth with the paw side up. And every time I see her doing this weird stunt it makes me think, not only of Gideon’s army, but also of God’s call upon myself to walk through this life in a circumspect manner.
Anticipating His Coming
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
It may seem a little silly to some, but one of the highlights of my day is pulling in my driveway and seeing my two spoiled cats abandon whatever mischief they were up to and come running out to greet me. It makes me chuckle every time. There have been many times this exuberant greeting has given me pause to wonder if my own anticipation of the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ has any level of zeal to it that would put a similar smile on his face.
In recent years I have been led of God to severely restrict what I allow to enter the inner sanctum of my life. Many things have had to go. Carnal entertainments, carnal friends, vain hobbies, empty religious programs, and the obsessive drive for financial success, etc. have all been lain aside in favor of cultivating an atmosphere where I can seek God earnestly and consistently. Although this has lowered my standard of living considerably, and necessitates a very frugal lifestyle, I have never felt more at peace, or had a greater assurance I am in the will of God and moving forward in his plan for my life. It is a wonderful feeling. I highly recommend it!
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
The deceitfulness of sin masks the reality that sin, any sin, immediately begins to produce a callous upon ones heart. That’s why sin needs to be battled against with a fierce spirit of self-preservation; like fighting an attacker out to kill you. Because that is exactly what it is.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:34-36
Sin is deadly and can damn a soul if not dealt with; but notice here Jesus was not just warning of the danger of sin, but also the cares of this life. The cares and concerns of this world have a way of dulling our spiritual senses. Making us blind to the things of God; and to the lateness of the hour. We need to take action to limit that influence.
We each need to be on guard that our hearts are not so cluttered and calloused that we can not hear from God, and move with what he is saying. It is a personal responsibility.
In the dark days ahead our survival, and even our very salvation, may depend on the efforts we make at desperately seeking God now in this season. Many a foolish soul has perished trying to learn how to swim after the boat has capsized. Let’s not be foolish.
Let’s be wise and prepare our hearts now!
Please, give that some serious thought will you? Me and my preaching cats are rootin’ for you!
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