George Bowers Sr.: Even cats can teach us something

George Bowers Sr.

Much to my displeasure, my wife has two cats. Princess and Kasha are from the same litter but are as different as night and day. Princess is thin, wary, and distant while Kasha is very friendly, obese, and stupid. I’m not a cat person, but because I love my wife, I tolerate her felines. (And because she loves me, she tolerates my snakes.) I think even cat lovers, however, will understand this tongue in cheek reflection.

House cats are some very interesting creatures as they certainly live as if the entire world revolves for and around them. These two are no exceptions. As soon as they hear steps approaching the kitchen in the morning, they assume we are not simply coming to get a cup of hazelnut coffee, but for the sole purpose of releasing them from their nightly dungeon in the basement. Because they begin to cry incessantly at the top of the steps, the door is usually opened and they begin their daily run of the house.

If, God forbid, we forget to banish them to their nighttime quarters, they are sure to demand food or attention at some point during the night. Since they sleep about 20 hours out of every day, they assume we do as well so they consider rising to meet their every whim no great inconvenience. Since life is all about them, we owe it to them anyway.

Then there are the times they are laying underfoot while we’re carrying something from one room to the next. Because they’ve been unintentionally stumbled over, they usually clear the area at our approach. The funny thing is that even when we’re not thinking of them, they sometimes run for the hills out of fearful paranoia. Because life is all about them, they interpret our every move as either a blessing or a curse even when they are often the furthest thing from our minds.

And food. What cat isn’t constantly hungry? Every time we walk into the kitchen, they automatically assume we are coming to feed them. Why else would we even consider going near their sacred cabinet? Whenever we get a spoon from the silverware drawer, the sound brings them charging from the farthest reaches of the house to stroll and beg with sad eyes and longing whiskers. Even though these cats have lived with us for many years, they still don’t get it. Our lives are not all about them.

But their mindset offers an important lesson. Life is not all about us either. Many times we interpret every occurrence in our lives as God’s direct action for or against us. If it’s good from our perspective, like a close parking space, then he must love us. If it’s bad, like a cold, obviously he’s punishing us. The truth in either case may be very different than we assume it to be. We flatter ourselves when we mistakenly believe that the world revolves around us. It is not his job to cater to our every whim and pacify our every need. God does care about us deeply and he gave his son to die on our behalf, but his agenda is much larger than just George.

Because we live in a fallen universe, some bad things are going to happen. God could stop every one of them, but for whatever reasons, he sometimes chooses not to. The fact that my car breaks down may well have more to do with my negligent maintenance than his divine judgment. My bronchitis may be much more the result of failing to wash my hands or get adequate rest than Godly punishment. God is not out to get us, but rather to love us perfectly. Our good is his goal regardless of how it may look to us at any given moment. But we also must understand that he loves those around us just as much and sometimes the things that happen in our lives are more for them than for us.

Nancy’s cats apparently are incapable of a trusting relationship with me, or maybe I am with them. But we can and should develop a relationship with God that is not based on paranoia or self-centeredness, but rather love and grace. Through these lenses, we can begin to understand life from his perspective and begin to be less hyperactive to every event. Let’s relax and allow him to be God and I’ll work on appreciating Princess and Kasha as well. In Jesus, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of seven books, including his latest book of poetry, Holy Verses. He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.