Monday, December 27, 2010

Follow the Leader

Well, I hope y’all had a very merry and Christ-centered Christmas as we did. I really intended to write a few more Christmas-themed posts, but I’m still thinking about them, and sometimes my inspirations are like a crock pot—they have to cook awhile before they actually come out of my head.

But, here is something I‘ve been thinking about for awhile already: my cat—yes, my newly disabled cat. Please be kind to her.

So, here’s the deal; my blind cat is not only blind, she is deaf now too. Weird, I know, but both senses vanished in the same day, I think.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been mulling around: I have recently been reading Isaiah’s prophetic words about the Israelites, and basically, Isaiah describes these ancient peoples as blind and deaf –just like my cat. But herein lies the difference between Israel and Sandy: the Israelites’ “blindness” and “deafness” caused them to run from God—to ignore His commands; Sandy’s disabilities cause her to seek me out—to perceive my movements, my scent, even when she can no longer hear or see me.

She constantly wants me to hold her or to she wants to sit on my lap. She knows that I will catch her if she falls—if she is close to me. When she can’t find me, she walks around meowing in this strange, guttural way and sneezing. The strange sounding meow is the result of the deafness. I don’t know what the sneezing is from. She knows she is disadvantaged without direction from me and she does her best to stay close to me. It is obvious she adores me (it’s true) and takes great delight in my presence. I am truly her leader now since she knows she can’t see or hear.

I wasn’t always Sandy’s leader. In her full-functioning days, Sandy was rather independent and, like most cats, wanted everything her way. She could sense danger and fend it off. She could hike into the woods anytime she wanted a mouse for a snack. Now she can’t do those things. Now she is weak, but she knows I am strong. Now she loves me more because she knows I will protect her.

In reality, I have always protected Sandy. She just didn’t realize it. In reality, I have always been in charge. She just didn’t acknowledge my leadership. In reality, she has always been pretty small and weak, but she felt strong and independent because she could see and hear. In reality, she always needed me.

Now, she knows she needs me because she is so incapable of finding the right way herself. She shows more affection now because she is so grateful that I can “see” and “hear” for her. Her crisis drove her to me, rather than away. When the Israelites struggled, their natural tendency was turn away from God—to follow their own “vision”. It didn’t work out very well for them, did it? I need to remember that when I think I know what’s best. And when I think my life is bad. And when I’m blaming God for his decisions. Compared to God, I really am blind and deaf. I need to be more like Sandy, realize my weakness, and try to follow Him wherever He leads.

I can’t see Him, but I can sense Him. I can’t hear Him with my ears, but I can with my heart. And my words may be awkward and sound strange (with or without sneezing) when I cry out to Him, but today I choose to make Him my leader, because, really, He has always been just that.

The song I learned in childhood is as true now as it was then:

Jesus loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak, but He is Strong

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #5


God said to Joshua as he was about to enter the Promise Land: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

Neo is always loyal to us. He will never desert us to find “something better”. Even if we tried to leave Neo, he would follow us and find us because he loves us.

If we are feeling far away from God, we have moved…not God. God will truly never leave us or forsake us. That is a true statement spoken by the Creator of the Universe. It is true whether we feel like it’s true or not; God’s Truth is greater than our feelings. Just as Neo would seek us out and find us if we ever left him, God will continually pursue us and press into us because we are his children. He loves us; this is the one thing in our lives that will never change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Loyalty to God and each other produces:

· Focus on God alone

· Commitment regardless of circumstances

· A shared heritage and a strong foundation

· Security when life is changing

· A picture for others of a true “Christ-follower”

Father God, our Rock, You are incredibly faithful to us. We want to be faithful to you and others. We are lazy. You are loyal. We are fickle. You are firm. Thank you for never giving up on us.

We need you.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #4


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Neo loves all the time—even when he has been hurt. He is always happy to see you even if you are crabby or have made lots of mistakes. You cannot make Neo not love you. He loves you because you belong to him. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, Neo thinks you are the best!

We should give each other unconditional love like Neo because God loves us unconditionally. God chose us as his children and he loves us because we are HIS! We can never be so bad or make so many mistakes that God will decide to withdraw this love. God is Love and we are his dearly loved children. He died for us…shouldn’t that make us all grateful…and humble…and unconditional with one another?

Why should we give unconditional love?

· It is like God—remember the story of the Prodigal son?

· It is not based on works

· It builds others up

· It gets our eyes off ourselves and onto God

· It makes us non-judgmental and frees us from bitterness

Father God, Lover of our Souls,

Thank you for modeling unconditional love to us. We want to love others like you love us. Help us hide ourselves in you so that your Spirit shows through our actions and words. We delight in you.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #3


“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2

Neo yearns to be with us, his family. When we go on a trip, he wants to ride in the car with us.When we go to the lake, he wants to come along. He even learned to like the water because he wanted to be with us in it! When we are at the lake and in the boat, we have to tie Neo to a tree because he will swim to his death trying to join us. So…he sits…chained to the tree, crying, whining, whimpering because he longs to be with us. He loves to be in our presence. We are his joy!

Do we yearn for God like this? Do we long to be with Him? Is God our joy? As the Psalmist says, we should pant and thirst for our God. Being in God’s presence should be our goal.

Longing for God produces in us:

· A motivation to pray and stay in His Word

· A yearning to be with Him in Heaven

· A Godly—not worldly—focus

· A hunger for more and more of His Spirit

Father God, Our Joy,

Create in us a longing to be with you.

Show us your living water and guide us to drink.

You are our Sustainer. We yearn for you.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons taught by Neo #2


“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

Isaiah 30:18

Neo doesn’t like to be told “Outside!” because it’s not what he thinks is best. But he trusts us enough to intently watch for an answer and then obey us when we give it.

Neo’s favorite days are the ones where we let him be with us in the house (or invite him to hike with us on the trail!). Yesterday, we learned to watch as Neo watches at the door. Often, when we are unloading groceries, or the bunny is out running around, we will make Neo sit by the door as we say, “wait…wait...wait…OK!” Neo keeps his eyes on ours as he watches and waits—all the while he is ready to pounce at the sound of our “OK!”

Neo always waits until he gets an answer from us, and we should always eagerly await God’s answer. He will answer us. It may not be the answer that we want or that we think is best, but we need to trust God enough to keep our eyes fixed on Him and obey him when He gives his word to us.

Why should we wait on God? Waiting produces:

· Trust

· Submission

· Watchfulness

· Prudence, not rashness

· God’s timing, not ours

Father God, our Deliverer,

Help us to wait on you patiently. We know

your ways are right and your decisions are always best. May we be obedient when the waiting seems

long. We trust you.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lessons Taught by Neo #1

Since this is a busy time and my posting has been lacking, I have decided to share with you a devotional that I wrote for my family to use on one of our backpacking trips. This five day devotional (I will be posting one entry per day) was inspired by our loyal dog, Neo.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.”
Luke 12:37

When Neo has been outside all day and he sees us come home, he will run into the garage and watch patiently, tail wagging furiously, at the door leading into the house. As we stand with the door open, Neo locks his deep brown eyes on ours and awaits our decision. Will we let him in and make his joy complete? Or will we say “not yet…” and make him wait until next time? He watches us intently, staring into our eyes because he knows his next move depends on our word. If we say “OK!”, he will bound into the house, happy to spend time with his family. If we say, “Outside!”, he will walk outside with his head low and his tail hanging limply—knowing that he needs to watch and wait a little longer for our next decision.

In the same way, we need to keep our eyes locked on God to await his direction for our lives. Only He knows what the future holds. He wants us to look to Him—trusting that his decisions are the best. Are your eyes fixed on the Master? When he says “OK!”, will you bound into his will?

We should be constantly watching God so that:

1. We can obey Him

2. We can see what He will do

3. We can emulate Him

4. We can know when to “Go!”

Father God, our Master,
Please keep our eyes firmly planted on You and on and your movements. Keep us poised and ready to obey.

We love you.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Blind Trust

OK. I have finally accepted it. My cat is blind.

Weird story: On Friday, I noticed as I watched out my kitchen window, that Sandy—our 16 ½ year old gray calico—was walking uncertainly in circles in the backyard and randomly bumping into things. First I thought she might be smelling out some small rodent, but as her circles continued, I suspected something was wrong. So, I put on a coat and went outside to watch her some more. She was disoriented, weak, and acting very strangely. I called to her and she answered with a strange, guttural, un-Sandy-like meow but she kept on walking in circles. I brought her inside and proceeded to put her on the screened porch where I knew she wouldn’t hurt herself. She seemed so agitated and nervous and she couldn’t seem to stop long enough to sit down. When I put out a bowl of water, she downed the bowl as fast as she could, then she drank another entire bowl of water, sticking her paw in the water, then drinking the liquid off of her paw—she had never done this before. She also acted ravenous, so I gave her a leftover salmon patty (I make these with canned salmon) and she ate the entire thing. By this time, though, I could tell that she could not see because she couldn’t find the food and water until I showed it to her, and then she realized she could smell it. She was also very weak and wobbly.

I thought maybe she was just dehydrated and that was causing her difficulties. But, even though the food and water eventually seemed to strengthen and stabilize her, it did not improve her sight.

I then went out to the garage and looked to see if any antifreeze was present to poison her since I knew antifreeze can cause sudden blindness. I found none.

I looked at the worming medicine that we had mixed with her water that morning, but found nothing listed on the side effects that mentioned vision problems.

I went on the porch and got her and looked at her eyes. They were fully dilated even though she had been in bright light. Something was very wrong.

I called my vet and he mentioned that blindness in old cats in not all that uncommon and that it is usually caused by high blood pressure—which is usually caused by another condition—and that I could bring her in if I thought she was uncomfortable. Since I have a background in healthcare, I contemplated trying to put my blood pressure cuff on her tiny little arm, but I didn’t think I could make it small enough. I knew that taking her in the car to the vet would probably drive her blood pressure sky high, so I avoided it and decided to take the “wait and see” option.

So, now I have been “waiting and seeing” for three days, and she seems like she is feeling better. She is more relaxed, able to sleep, much less thirsty, and very affectionate. But she still can’t see. Her eyes are still unnaturally dilated. And she is still running into walls. I have been trying to keep her stress level very low—that means keeping Cole and Neo out of her presence. (Sorry, Cole, but you can be a little scary.)

I did go down to the storage room where she has been hanging out and lay hands on her, though. I thought maybe God would heal her. I told Him I knew He could.

He didn’t heal her.

I thought about making some mud and putting it on her eyes and having her wash it off, but I then I decided against it.

Every day now, I wake up and check on her and I keep thinking that maybe she will be able to see. But she can’t. Yet. And I don’t know if she will ever see again. I could probably have the vet put her on some blood pressure meds to see if lowering her BP would help. But the medicine is expensive and she is old. And my dog was very expensive recently, but he is still young.

Is it wrong for me to make these judgment calls based on the age of my pets? I don’t think so. I think forcing a pill down Sandy’s throat two times daily would most certainly be miserable for her—and for me.

As I write this, she is sleeping soundly in a chair beside me. I wonder if she can still see in her dreams?

I wish that Sandy could see. She can’t. I wish that God would heal her. He might, but probably not—not because He is not able—but because I think He is trying to teach me something with this.

I think that God is showing me that things happen unexpectedly in this life that I don’t like. They come on suddenly and surprisingly. I don’t understand why and I can’t do anything to change them.

I can pray a lot and hope a lot. I can even wake up each day and see if the problem has gone away. But God might just let me deal with this so I can learn how to trust Him more. I don’t need to understand His Sovereignty; I just need to accept it. I just need to trust that He has my best in mind and that His decisions are always Right. Why do I try to argue with a God who is Supreme? Why do I doubt a God who chose to send His Son to die for me? I shouldn’t, because it is an insult to His character. And I won’t because I want to preserve His reputation. This is hard for me, a worrier.

So Sandy remains imperfect and unhealed. It’s not what I would have chosen, but God is the Chooser and His Judgments are always right. Sandy is just a cat, but God is the Creator of cats…and of me.

I will trust Him—blind cat and all. Maybe my eyes are the ones He will open.

“Do good to your servant, and I will live;
I will obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.”

Psalm 119:17-18

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rear Guard

I’ve said it before and I will say it again; GOD’S GOT YOUR BACK. He’s watchin’ out for you.

Do you believe it?

I love how another one of my heroes, A.W. Tozer, puts it. Check it out:

To believe actively that our Heavenly Father constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to the soul a veritable benediction. Most of us go through life praying a little, planning a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the way. This is a tragic waste of truth and never gives rest to the heart.

There is a better way. It is to repudiate our own wisdom and take instead the infinite wisdom of God. Our insistence on seeing ahead is natural enough, but it is a real hindrance to our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with full responsibility for our eternal happiness and stand ready to take over the management of our lives the moment we turn in faith to Him. …God constantly encourages us to trust Him in the dark.

Amen Brother!! What else can I say?

May it be so.

“…for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 52:12