Saturday, August 26, 2017

Of Cats and Bells

Today, I saw a house-cat hunting a squirrel. The cat crept up on the unsuspecting creature, carefully trying to get within range of a giant leap and an unleashing of claws and teeth. One could see thousands of years of instincts and intuition, passed down from ancient ancestors, coiled up in the body of this domesticated cat. Something told me this cat was exceptionally good at hunting. Even the fact that he would set his sights on a squirrel was laudable. A squirrel that is capable of quickly climbing fences and trees in a flash is not easy prey. What made this vignette sad was the fact that the cat wore a bell. No matter how hard the cat might try to creep up on its target, a slight movement of the bell would give away the position of the cat and alert its quarry. The owner was likely tired of the cat bringing home fresh kills to the house. Cats will do that you know. They are proud of their accomplishments and seek approval from those that love them. The cat may not be hungry, but some ancient instinct stirs in its mind and calls the cat to hunt. Some would accuse the cat of killing for sport. I do not think we should readily jump to that conclusion. Who knows what rare minerals or amino acids may be lacking in the body of this cat. Perhaps it is a specific hunger that drives it to crave this most ancient meat. Or perhaps it is the “call of the wild” inside this cat – a wild side that cannot be tamed – that calls to its nose and nervous system.

How sad to be caged without a cage. How sad to feel the pull toward something for which it has been made, with barriers that work against the fulfillment of purpose. There is a bigger story here.

How many people may be living a similarly caged life - caged by an almost imperceptible bell that seeks to keep them from their true calling? I do not speak of selfish goals or desires that enhance the individual. I speak of the person that each of us was designed to be. Those who think there is no design should stop reading here. Those who believe we are a product of chance driven by internal cravings for personal profit will be disappointed by the conclusion of this post. I speak instead of the very design of each person, the gifts and talents placed in our bodies and minds by one who has known us before we were conceived (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:15, 16; Isaiah 49:5). I speak of the thousands of years that have come and gone before, leading to a moment in history for which God has ordained us for the collective purposes of the world as it is today. Without a picture of who God made each of us to be, we will forever be pacing the cage; forever battling the barriers that keep us from our true calling. Even the cat is driven by a will to enhance the fortunes of his family that carry its genes into the generations to come, how much more has God made each of us for improving the future of humans and the welfare of others around us? How many of us might agree with the sentiments of Bruce Cockburn’s song when he says,

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in[1]

I pray that each of us might seek our true calling and not an image we wish others would believe. May the barriers that keep us from the things to which our God calls us be shattered and torn away - like the bell I removed from a cat’s collar.

[1]Pacing the Cage;” Bruce Cockburn, The Charity of the Night,

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