I’m always so amazed at how much God can teach us through the most ordinary things in our lives.
For me lately, it’s been my cat, Boots.
Our hearts melt at our pet’s sad eyes when we leave home in the morning. There’s a whole other melting when we return and they happily greet us at the door. These are the most precious moments to us, because it displays how they willfully love us – without us having to bribe them or drag them out of their hiding spot.
Pets may not always listen and do what we want them to. But if we commanded 100 percent of their actions, they wouldn’t be our loving pets – they’d be smartphones. And we don’t love our smartphones. Because they are just material items that can’t love us back. In the same way, God gave us free will because He didn’t want robots. He didn’t want to force people to love or obey Him. He wanted it to be a choice so it would be true love and not force.
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27, New Living Translation
Cats can have the biggest mood swings. One second they’re purring on your lap and the next they’re biting your arm because you pet them wrong. But that’s just how cats are. They have their likes and dislikes, but they don’t essentially change. They don’t go through long periods in life where they forget about you or decide they don't love you anymore. Our pets stay the same. And so does God.
What you experienced with Him yesterday or several years ago, you can experience today. He is still the same. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Knowing that we humans are the ones that change, we can examine ourselves if we feel a negative difference in our relationship with God.
My heart was broken the times my cat Boots was in physical pain or when he was depressed after he was separated from his sister. We may feel silly or dramatic for feeling this way and think it is something that God wouldn’t care about.
But, again, we are in His image and He has the same emotions. God loves animals more than you or I or anyone at PETA ever could. He created animals. If we feel horrible when bad things happen to them, then imagine how much more it hurts Him.
“The creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay … And we believers also groan ... for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:21, 23 New Living Translation)
One time Boots snuck outside and was lost for three days. He thought he was having the time of his life, chasing lizards and girl cats around the neighborhood. He didn’t know his life was in danger and that he could die from a lack of water, a wild animal, or get run over by a car. He could have come back home anytime or came to my voice when I went calling him.
Though I knew he didn’t really want to, I still searched for him intensely because I didn’t want him to be harmed. Because I love him and didn’t want to be separated from him forever. When I finally found him and he saw me, he wouldn't stop yelping in joy. In the same way, God seeks us even when we don’t know we’re lost.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10, New Living Translation
Sometimes Boots meows and follows me around begging for my attention or a treat and I love every minute of it. Because cats usually have such an independent, do-things-on-my-own attitude, I enjoy the times he willfully comes to me and needs me.
I think humans are the same way – so independent, trying to take everything on ourselves. But when we look to God for help and He has our full attention, He is delighted by our gesture and blesses us.
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11, New Living Translation
Though God searches for us intensely, He will never force Himself in our lives. He gave us free will so that we could choose to know and love Him.
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