I have an obnoxious white cat roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. He thinks he’s Houdini. Every time one of my kids goes outside, he slips out the front door, pulls a vanishing act and poof, he’s gone. You wouldn’t think a cat the size of a compact German automobile could move that fast, but you’d be wrong.
The amazing thing is that he doesn’t even have to be in the room to know someone’s heading for the door. I think his tail has some kind of built in radar. Either that or his hearing is better than mine. Whatever the case, it’s weird. You open the door, feel a whoosh of air, see him on the sidewalk and think, how did he get outside?
Sometimes we don’t even know he’s gone until we see him an hour or so later parading around our back yard, all pompous and arrogant. He meows at us as if to say, “In your face, suckers!” He’s completely full of himself.
But as clever of an escape artist as our cat is, he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks. He may have mastered ninja-like stealth, but he’s forgetting three important facts. First, our neighborhood is crawling with dogs. Second, he has no front claws. And, third, for all of his impressive girth, he’s a big, fat sissy.
What my cat doesn’t realize is that we don’t keep him in the house to torture him. We keep him in the house to protect him. And yet, he spends every waking minute of the day (all five of them) plotting to escape the very shelter that keeps him safe.
It makes me think of a story Jesus once told about a punk kid who demanded his share of the family wealth then ran off to Vegas and blew it all at the craps table. Okay, so maybe dice weren’t involved but that’s pretty much the story. Once his life bottomed out, he ended up going back home expecting his dad to hate his guts. Instead his dad threw him a party.
I think sometimes the things we try the hardest to run away from are the very things God has given us for our good. I’ve seen guys run out on their families, people whine about decent, stable jobs that aren’t fulfilling them and Christians church hop like they’re shopping for a new car. Still others of us simply turn our backs on our friendship with God all because we think that somewhere out there we’ll find the thing we really want.
What if the thing we really want is right under our noses? What if it’s something we take for granted ever day? What a bummer it would be if we left it all behind just to realize we’d had it all along.
I’m not sure if my cat will ever learn this lesson, but I hope you and I do so that we don’t miss out on God’s best.