Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:8
The first time I tried my hand at being a cat tamer, I was just barely a year old. His name was Archie and he belonged to my grandmother. To this day she answers my phone calls with “Meow! Jennifer, leave the cat alone!”
Fortunately for me, Archie was (apparently) a pretty easy-going cat. He’d allow me to harass him until he had enough and would then jump out of my reach. Of all the stories I’ve heard, I don’t recall being told I got smacked. Which is probably what led me to believing all cats would love to be my playmate.
As I got older I became bolder in my attempts, moving from the domesticated to the feral. My arms still bear a few long, slender scars as proof. I grew up in the country surrounded by trees, blackberry bushes, waist-high grasses, and shrubs. There were also seasonal and a year-round creeks nearby we regularly played in. We never worried about bears or any other dangerous beasts, but hidden in the foliage were plenty of adorable (and extremely wild) kittens.
I honestly have no idea what possessed me to claim every single miniature feline that crossed my path. I had domesticated cats at home who snuggled up with me in bed every night, tried to share my ice cream with me in the summer, and who loved playing with me. But that wasn’t good enough for me. There was no way I could rest easy at night knowing there were so many starving baby kitties shivering outside in the dark.
I took it upon myself to save them.
Through a process of trial and error I discovered that I couldn’t just run up to them and scoop them up. They were fast. They were scared. And if I managed to get a tenuous grip on them, their claws and teeth were sharp. So I took a play from Wile E. Coyote’s book and put out a trail of food to draw them to me. Then I learned to wait.
At first I’d set out a pile of food and leave all together. After a couple of days of the food disappearing, I started sitting a distance away without moving and watched the white, ginger, or speckled baby creep to the food bit by bit, stopping to sniff, darting away if it sensed danger, and returning to accept the offering. Every day after that I’d move a bit closer. Eventually the cat would allow me to make a small move (so long as it wasn’t towards her) without disappearing into the brambles.
I fully believed that if I was patient long enough, the cat and I could be friends. Through each process, however, I learned I couldn’t force myself on the animal. I could offer it food, protection, and shelter. I could lavish it with love and companionship.
But first the cat had to accept me.
Some never let me near, others allowed me no closer than arm’s length, but a few trusted me enough in time that I eventually took them home to parents who accepted my eccentricity.
I can’t help but draw a correlation between my cat-taming adventures and how God deals with us.
He saw us in our wild form and knew how desperate our life would be if left alone. He saw the injuries we’d sustain and longed to clean and bind them for us. He knew we were starving long before we realized it and offered us a place at His table. Like me and the feral kitten, He waits for us to come to Him. Once we make that choice to come to Him, He waits for our return each day. He never once forces Himself upon us. That’s just not His way.
Come near to God and He will come near to you. What an incredible and unbelievable invitation!
Lord, I thank you for how You have chosen to interact with us. I thank you that even though you offer all we need You never grab us and force it upon us. I love that while You go out of Your way to assure me You’re safe to approach. You leave it up to me to determine how close we become. Come near to me today, Lord. I want to be near to You.