We have a new friend. Her name is Tabasco. We didn’t name her. In fact, no one is sure who did.
Tabasco, a sweet little calico cat, roams my parent’s block. The next-door neighbor feeds her. Every kid on the block searches for her … so they can play with her. My kids adore her. But my folks can’t stand her.
And, despite my mother’s valiant efforts to shoo and the lack of a warm welcome, Tabasco spends a great amount of her day in their flowerbed. In fact, almost every time we come to the front door, Tabasco’s loud “mrweoow”s can be heard. She’s quick to leave her resting spot and run our direction all while vigorously announcing herself.
She craves attention.
Our kids eagerly desire to give it to her.
But, as soon as one of the children (or I) bend down to offer a gentle stroke or scratch behind her ears, she darts away. Not far away, but certainly out of reach. Then she comes back. Again meowing loudly as if to say, “Please don’t go inside… just sit with me for a minute.” Then she darts to avoid a harmless outstretched hand. Then back. Then away. And if we take a minute to sit on the porch, she races to rub up against a back and to slink into an available lap.
I find her actions so interesting. She craves the touch. Yet only on her terms. The attention and love that she so longs to receive offers itself almost every time we see her. Yet she can’t force herself to come near – unless she dictates the when and the how. She runs from, rather than to safe, and gentle arms that are eager to care for her… because she thinks she knows better.
Some days we will take the extra time to play her game. She gets what she needs those days. Most days we move on.
“That cat sure is ridiculous.” I said to one of the girls as we raced from the house to the car the other day.
“Yeah,” agreed her sister. “She so badly wants us to pet her, but she runs just far enough away to be outside of our reach.”
“So silly,” chimes in a brother.
“I know,” I think out loud. “… I tell you, every time she does it, I can’t help but catch myself. I wonder how often I do the same thing with the Lord.”
They’re listening, so I continue.
“He has nothing but love for us. He’s there for us every day, ready to meet us, offering complete peace and joy. … Yet, unlike us for Tabasco, He’s always available. But we’re often like Tabasco – only having a relationship based on our terms. We run out of reach, thinking we know best, not trusting but resting on what we see rather than what we know to be true. God, though much bigger than us, maybe even seemingly scary, offers our only true refuge.”
I stop there as we continue on our way. I know the kids are chewing on this one … as I hope they do on many of our conversations. We will keep talking. Because you never know when a cat, or whatever the day brings, might afford the opportunity to bring home the fact that a much greater gentle hand offers what we all desire, ultimate love, acceptance and protection.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”