Lessons About God from... Kittens

We recently got two adorable feral—alias ‘wild’—8 week old kittens from an animal rescue.  Every day kittens, cats, and dogs are euthanized because there are too many of them and not enough people to take them into their homes so we choose to get our pets from rescue organizations.

Although I had been on the hunt only for a male companion that resembled our resident Siamese/Ragdoll three-year old female cat, once my husband and I saw this brother-sister duo we didn’t have the heart to separate them. Now, the proud owners of a cat and two kittens, I guess we are officially ‘cat people’.  I recognize that you may be one of those who hates cats, or at best tolerates them; I confess I used to be solely a dog lover but have become a ‘cat lover’ convert. Even if cats aren’t your favorite pet, I think you too can learn something about the way we humans relate to God from taking a glimpse at my kittens’ lives.

Our new kittens Murphy and Marnie initially were rather skittish around us because they were used to limited human contact. When I would walk into a room they would scatter due to fear of me. Or, sometimes they were just ‘doing their own thing’ and didn’t seem to want to be bothered with me. However, that all changed whenever I would bring them their food. Then they would emerge from their hiding spots with a single focus and start wolfing down their food.

As I observed them, I immediately thought that their behavior with me all too often mirrors the way I and other Christians relate to the Lord.  We want God nearby when He can meet our needs, like the way the kittens clamor for me when I am bringing them food. Otherwise, we often ignore Him because we are pursuing our own selfish interests. Like my kittens that sometimes just walk away from me even while I am calling their names, we can get so preoccupied with our own agendas that we too just ‘walk away from God’. Or, sometimes, like my kittens that scamper away in fright--even though all I want to do is to give them love-- we succumb to our fears and dart away from God rather than draw near to Him when we are frightened. I remember assuring my kittens when they would run away that I loved them, I would never hurt them, and that my only desire was to be good to them. But just as that fell on their ‘deaf’ ears, too often we are ‘deaf’ to God’s words of assurance to us in the Bible that He does indeed love us and only desires the best for us. And just as my kittens’ initial fear of me kept them at a distance from me so therefore I wasn’t able to demonstrate and shower them with the love I longed to give to them, our fear of God all too often stands in the way of our having the intimacy with God that we were created to enjoy and that He longs to have with us.

There was one time in particular that really brought home to me how much we need to trust our Heavenly Father even when we don’t understand His ways, even when He restrains us and maybe even takes away from us the very thing that we think we have to have. In order to make sure my young kittens received the food that they needed, I had to feed them in a room separated from my cat who otherwise would chow down all of their kitten food. So I would put them in my master bathroom, close the door to keep my other cat out of the room, and then put down their food. Ordinarily I picked up the food plate immediately after they ate but one day I had to leave the house before they finished eating and I didn’t return for several hours. By the time I returned and walked into the room I saw that there was an invasion—an army of tiny ants had descended on their remaining wet food and had marched their way into their dry food too! My immediate thought was to protect my kittens from eating any ants, so first I removed the source of the problem—I took away the tainted food and threw it out. My kittens looked at me with an expression of, ‘How can you take away what we most want?!’

Next, I started smashing the ants with my foot, thinking the whole time that those tiny ants didn’t stand a chance against me even though they vastly outnumbered me. It was nothing for me to eliminate the ‘enemies’ who sought to corrupt my kittens’ food source.  I immediately thought how like God Who easily is able to defeat all of our enemies! Like me stomping out those ants, those who rise against God’s children do not stand a chance against Him!

I knew I also had to remove the source of the ants’ entry into the room and I also knew I had to make sure my kittens were nowhere around when I sprayed an ant killing spray at the source. So I picked up the kittens and placed them in the small toilet closet in my bathroom. As I ran to get some ant spray they meowed incessantly from their small, closed quarters. I imagine they couldn’t understand why I would take away their highly treasured food and then lock them up in such a confining place. I wished I could’ve explained to them that it was all for their safety and out of loving concern for them, but obviously they couldn’t comprehend that. Once I had sprayed the source of the ant’s entry, I cleaned up not only the dead ants, but scrubbed the tile thoroughly to make sure there was not a trace of the pesticide that could hurt them. It made me think how often we look to God without understanding that when He removes something from us that we treasure—perhaps a loved one, a job, our health, a friend, our status—that He only has our good in mind, and that sometimes He is even protecting us from harm. He also knows that we can’t comprehend all of His ways because they are so much higher than our understanding, just as I couldn’t explain to my kittens what I was doing and why. God just desires that we trust that at all times He is at work to do what is best for us, even when we don’t understand or agree with His ways.

My reason for wanting a kitten was twofold: (1) as a companion for my other cat, for I know that cats are social creatures and they do better when they are with another cat than when they live alone (2) the primary reason is as an empty nester of 4 grown children, I wanted something alive in our home to nurture and to pour my love into, and we are gone too much to make having a dog again practical. So that is why we ended up bringing Murphy and Marnie into our home…to be a companion for our cat Maggie, and mainly for my husband and me to enjoy the pleasure of a relationship with them. And isn’t that like God? He created us because He longs for a relationship with us!  And when we are apathetic, indifferent or fearful of Him we miss the very purpose for which we were brought into this world, just as my kittens can miss the whole reason we adopted them into our home. And He also created us for ‘Body life’. God knows that we all do better when we are in fellowship with others and do not try to go ‘solo’ in this life. In fact, as I delight in watching my kittens tussle together and cuddle side-by-side, I am reminded of the joy that God has in seeing His children in fellowship with one another, loving one another as He has loved us. I especially love when the kittens choose to come near to me, demonstrating that they have developed a trust in me, allowing me to love on them—the main reason we chose to rescue them and bring them into our home. And as they come to me, I rejoice in knowing that I give even far greater joy to my Lord and Master Jesus when I choose to draw near to Him so that He can shower me--the one He rescued from certain death—with His amazing love!

Are you allowing indifference, apathy or fear to separate you from God?  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 Remember always that God longs to have an intimate relationship with you; that is why He created you, sent Jesus to give His life for you, and brought you into His household when you accepted Him as your Savior!

 Do you trust Him to always be at work for your good and the glory of His name, even when you don’t understand His far superior ways? (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 8:28)

 Are you trying to go this life alone, or are you availing yourself of the sweet companionship that is found in living in fellowship with the Body of Christ, which also gives such joy to your Heavenly Father? Oh Lord, may we put our trust in You, draw near to You, and draw near to others who can support us in our journey on earth!

Written by Julie Van Gorp