I’ve been realizing a lot during this past month.  The first and most amazing thing is that I am able to read, think about, and apply scripture on my own without relying on someone else telling me what to do.  That was a pretty awesome discovery; however, I’ve been picking up on some pretty strong ideas these past couple of weeks.  Jesus explained things in stories, and I’m going to try my hand at that, so just bear with me…


When we found our kitten, Grace, she was far too young (about 4 weeks according to the vet) to be able to survive on her own.  The best we can figure is that she was washed away from the safety of her family by flash floods that had been in the area.  By the time we found her, part of her tail was missing; she was half-starved, filthy, and incredibly stinky!  We really had no intentions of getting a cat (much to my dislike, as I love animals), but here this small, helpless creature was lunging at us, screaming for help.


Of course, we tried to do the “responsible” thing and find her rightful family to take her back to, thereby ridding us of the responsibility of this small, fragile life.  As you can imagine, no one in the area wanted to claim this kitten that you could smell at 20 paces; if she was going to live, we were going to have to do something to help her.


As I said before, I love animals and have nursed more than my fair share back to health, but have never been faced with quite so young and quite so helpless of a cat.  So here we are, back in the car, cat on my lap (windows cracked for breathing purposes), on our way to Walmart for the necessary items.  Now I was faced with a real dilemma; I knew that I had a pretty good chance of helping her to live, but in order to do that I would have to invest my heart.  No one, cats included, can heal without love.  The problem being that if I failed, I would be the one left crying.  The other problem is that I’m a teacher, not a vet, and am in no means “qualified” to do this; however, if I didn’t, there was no one else around who would.


When I had thought about getting a pet, I had always assumed that I would get a cat from a pet shop or animal shelter.  I was thinking perhaps another Persian or maybe a Maine Coone or a Munchkin breed.  Even if I couldn’t get a pedigree cat, either place would offer an animal that was (at least relatively) bug-free and healthy.  God had other plans.  Most people would have walked away from one tiny, loud, half-tailed, flea-infested, dirt-encrusted, stinky cat.  People go to pet stores and animal shelters to find their next pet, not randomly finding them at a park.


What I’ve experienced over the past couple weeks is a deep understanding that I need to look for and help the “stinky cats” of the world.  The ones who are cleaned up and in places that others go looking will be okay – believers who are looking for “presentable” people to help will find them.  There is a whole group of people in this world that no one wants to touch because they are so far off the “normal” mark and seem so un-loveable.  Those are the people in need of someone willing to reach out.  The pet-store people will be okay, lots of individuals are willing to go there – the others can’t get forgotten.


Like Grace, almost every person starts off life being loved and cared for.  (There are the random cases where children are so devalued that they aren’t, but that is the exception rather than the rule.)  The problem is that the storms of life come along and separate us from the people we love who take care of us.  Our safety disappears and life gets scary.  We get damaged (like Grace’s tail), and often that damage lasts a lifetime.  We find ourselves starving in the ways that matter.  We have picked up bad habits and are encrusted with the results of our sinful choices.  We call out for someone to help us, but so many times people don’t or won’t hear and respond.  Or if they do, it is without emotional investment and so no healing can happen.  Or it is assumed that someone else will do something about the “problem.”  It isn’t enough to meet the surface needs of people; Christians need to be willing to meet the emotional needs of the hurting around us.  People who are in that place know if your care is surface or genuine, even though most would like to think hurting people are too dumb or too far gone to realize when something is just a platitude.


I’m not an expert, or in any way qualified by means of degree, but I know that God promises to give us what we need when we ask in faith according to His will and plan.  I believe His promises and I believe that He will provide what I need, when I need it, to do what He wants me to do.  (Even if it is more than a little bit scary and overwhelming and leaving me feeling completely out of my element.)  He said, “Make disciples of all nations.”  He said, “Love others as I have loved you.”  Seems pretty straight forward to me – it’s just that simple, and it’s just that hard.

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