Three days ago, my cat, Mister Kitty, went missing.
This gray and black dynamo arrived at our home about a year ago, skinny, fragile and a little scared.
But he sure had a big mouth.
For week’s we’d heard him meow, this pitiful, plaintive sound carrying through the woods at dark.My dog, Allie (who herds cats), finally got him to come to the house.
We aren’t sure if he was dumped by nearby renters (which happens all the time) or if he’d gotten lost while hunting or chasing girls. We just knew that he needed food, shelter and a little love.
It didn’t take long for Mister Kitty to become a member of my extensive pet family.
He loves the upstairs and quickly took over my office, keeping all of my other cats out (which was a good thing, since they knock stuff down) and meowing at me when I need a break from work.
Mister Kitty quickly became my office cat, sitting high on a pile of blankets next to my desk while I whittle away at the day’s work. He also likes to sit on my shoulders while I type.
He went outside for his usual jaunt and didn’t return. I called for him several times, waiting to hear that plaintive meow that means, “I’m coming. Get ready to pick me up and carrying me in.”
I called for him until well after dark. Dogs nearby barked furiously and I had wondered if he was treed.
The next morning, I called for him. Throughout the day, I stepped out of the office and called. I took walks through the woods where he likes to sit, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.
My office was so quiet without him in there. I’m so used to his little movements, mews and pet-time breaks, I found myself lonely in the silence.
I have 12 furbabies kitties in all. Yes, that’s right. A dozen.
They came here after their parents were dumped. People here don’t spay or neuter their animals and there is no animal control. Some use bullets as a form of animal control – but that’s not me. I can’t do that to a healthy animal.
Before I get on my soap box about spay/neuter, I’ll get to the point.
I have 12 cats and I know every single one of them. I know their names, personalities, likes and dislikes, food preferences. I know when they like pets – and how they like pets. I know that Bubba likes to drink water out of the faucet, rather than the pan (at least it’s not the toilet). I know Bandit follows on my heals and hollers until she gets milk. Jimmy doesn’t stop meowing until ever piece of chicken is gone from the refrigerator.
I know my babies. I love them all and care for them all, just like they were my children.
Because they are, in a way, my babies.
I have a sincere love for animals and do what I can in my limited income to take care of them.
And when one of my babies goes missing, I worry.
I pray for their safety. I call for them – until my throat is sore and the neighbors think I’m nuts. I call for them first, lightly, then with annoyance, then with worry in my voice. I wonder where they are, if they are hurt, injured, can’t get home and need me to find them.
I keep their special places warm and ready for when they come home.
Sometimes, they come back. We celebrate, scold them lovingly and get them food, water and pets galore. Other times – sad times – they do not make it home. They vanish without a trace, leaving me to hope that, if they are alive, they are with a family that cares for them.
As I called last night for Mister Kitty, I realized that this is what it must be like for God.
When we step away from Him, He calls for us. He beckons to us to come back. Sometimes we listen. Sometimes we don’t. Ezekiel 34 11-16 The Message says:
… I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays. I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.
This morning, I’d called for Mister Kitty several times. I’d open the screen door, hoping he would be right there, waiting to come inside. It was so cold last night, I’d worried. At least, it wasn’t below freezing, but still. I was afraid a dog had him up a tree and he was too afraid to make it home.
After a while, I went back to work. Suddenly, I heard the door open downstairs and someone call, “Come on, Mister Kitty!”
I rushed to the stairs and met him halfway up. Like a streak, he flew past me and to his desk, meowing loudly, plaintively, ready for food. I smiled, laughed and rejoiced that he was home. Just a month ago, I lost a cat that had gotten injured by a vehicle motor blade. I wasn’t ready to lose another one.
After he’d scarfed down a can and two handfuls of dry food, he wanted pets. LOTS of pets. He burped, then went to his little bed behind the computer and slept.
Everything felt right again. His little sounds make the office right again.
God experiences the same joy when someone turns back to Him. A party breaks out in Heaven and the angels start playing their instruments.
From Luke 15 4-7 in The Message:
Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’
It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in life – mistakes we’ve made, dumb choices that continue to show up in Facebook feeds – God is ready to take us back. The past doesn’t matter. He just wants us to share in His future.
For that, I am so thankful.0