By: Rick Gamble

Content from Grace Centered Magazine

rgambleLet’s put the emphasis on the cat in catechism, a fancy word that simply means religious instruction. We can learn a lot about faith from felines. Though cats have only been domesticated for half as long as dogs, they’ve held a place of honour and affection in many cultures over the centuries, from ancient Egypt — when cats were worshipped — until today.

In 1987, cats overtook dogs as the most popular pet in North America. As someone once said, “To get a balanced view of yourself, you should have both a dog and a cat: a dog to worship you and a cat to ignore you.”

Interestingly, cats don’t think they’re small people. They think we’re big cats. This enormous difference in approach influences their behaviour in many ways, including their troubling tendency to seek our approval by proudly bringing us their dead prey.

In much the same way, we often fail to see God as the all-surpassing, sovereign, supreme One clothed in might and majesty. Instead, we treat him as merely one of us, only bigger. We ascribe to him our attitudes, characteristics and behaviours, which leads us to seek his approval in dreadfully inappropriate ways, whether it’s trying to impress him with human measures of success, or thinking we deserve heaven because of our hard work, instead of Jesus’ sacrifice.

“How great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” marvels Paul. “And who could ever give him so much that He’d have to pay it back? For everything comes from him, exists by his power and is intended for his glory.” (Rom. 11:33,36) That includes us.

Perspective is key. Among those ancient Egyptians, the word for cat was mau, which meant to see. They’d noticed the animal’s amazing ability to function in the dark. Though cats can’t see in total blackness, their specially-designed eyes can scoop up even the tiniest glint of light. Ironically, a cat’s eyesight is only effective when it looks straight ahead because the edges of its vision are blurred and it can’t see directly under its nose.

We, too, are equipped to thrive in this dark world thanks to spiritual vision that lets us see the Light that comes from God. But, like a cat, we get a fuzzy image of reality when we take our eyes off what lies ahead and look to the distractions off to the side. When that happens, we can’t see even the greatest blessings right under our nose.

As the old adage says, curiosity can kill a cat. But most are smarter than that because of the caution mixed with their courage. On the one hand, a cat can jump seven times its height, clearing seemingly insurmountable barriers. But the nimble animal knows how to use its head to stay out of a tight squeeze — literally. Since the cat doesn’t have a true collarbone, it can wriggle out of any space its head can fit through. It’s the same for those of us in the church. We can get through anything, no matter how impossible it looks, as long as we allow our Head to lead the way.

As for the cat’s legendary ability to land safely on its feet in a fall, it’s because of a built-in “righting” reflex controlled by a complex organ in the inner ear. In less than two seconds, the animal’s head becomes level to the ground, its body is ordered to readjust itself from the top down to follow the head, and the cat lands on all four feet with its back arched to absorb the impact. In the same way, when the Holy Spirit controls us, the Body will instinctively align itself with the Head of the church, beginning with the leadership, so that everyone can share the jarring impact of trouble and turmoil for the safety of all.

Once we’re secure in our relationship with God, we can imitate the miraculous homing instinct that cats share with birds. Even when a cat ends up far from where it should be, it can find its way back by using a combination of its biological clock, the location of the sun and the earth’s magnetic field. And so it is with us, if we heed the eternity planted in our hearts, our position in relation to the Son, and the powerful draw of our Father’s unyielding love. We get only two lives instead of nine, but that second one will be absolutely purrfect.

-Rick Gamble

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