Nine Lives and Effectual Calling
Meet Smokey. He is our cat. Wait. Let me take that back. To merely say that Smokey is our cat does not do him justice. Smokey is not only our cat; he is the coolest cat ever. He is the most affectionate, manly, and handsome cat I have ever known. If you were to come to our home, Smokey would not nervously skitter under a table to hide like other cats might do. He would look at you, then at a chair, then back at you, then at the chair, then back at you… He would do this until you got the hint and sat down. Then Smokey would jump up in your lap, nestle in, and go to sleep. He is a sweet cat, unless you are a chipmunk, in which case you would be hating life. At least it would only be for a little while. He also has a routine and little idiosyncrasies. He meows his head off at 4:30 every morning to be let out. He leads us to the bathtub when he is thirsty so we will turn the faucet on so he can get a drink. He gives us a repertoire of non-verbal hints telling us that he wants his tuna every morning, and a repertoire of other non-verbal hints for everything else he wants. He has us trained in a number of ways, but he rewards us for our efforts in a number of ways as well.
One morning as I was getting ready for school, Janine asked me if I had seen Smokey. I told her I had not. She asked if I had seen him the day before. I said “No.” As we thought it through, we realized it had been three days since we had seen him. I asked my neighbor, who is also well trained to provide tuna on demand, and he said that they had not seen him for three days. I had little hope that we would ever see Smokey again. Those three days turned into a week. A week turned into two, then into a month. We were all so sad, but resolved ourselves to the fact that something had happened to Smokey. We spoke of him from time to time and missed him very much.
Six weeks had passed when I received a phone call from a woman named Traci. Traci told me that she thought she had our cat. “A grey tabby?” I asked. “A big grey tabby, with big, beautiful green eyes” she replied. “He’s as sweet as he can be” she added. I asked where she lived, expecting that it would be a block or two away. “Hatchechubee Alabama” she said. “What?! Hatchechubee?!” After a few clicks on the keyboard, Mapquest.com revealed that Smokey was nearly 40 miles from our house. “What in the world?” She had tracked us down through the information on his tag and we were so glad, and thankful that she had.
After getting Traci’s address, my daughter McKenzie, my son Oliver, and I drove out to her house and got Smokey. The reunion was more joyful than you can imagine. We were so happy to have Smokey back. Although he had been gone for six weeks, he had only been with Traci and her family for three days. Traci told us that as she was working in her yard, she heard a cat meowing, and saw him coming up the driveway. They had taken good care of him and had already fallen in love with him but he had probably lost half his weight.
When he arrived at our house, it was obvious that Smokey knew he was home. He went through all his routines in an abbreviated fashion. He took a nap on the fuzzy blue blanket at the foot of Oliver’s bed, hopped in the tub for a drink, begged at the refrigerator for some tuna, and lay on Janine’s lap in their favorite chair, purring contently. Janine cried for two hours, partly out of joy, and partly because she could not bear the thought of Smokey barely surviving for all those weeks.
As I contemplated Smokey’s situation, I could not help but think about our own human condition. Before Christ, we are all lost and in need of rescuing.
I do not know how Smokey got in the situation he was in, but he was as good as dead. Smokey was lost. He had no hope. As much as he may have wanted to get home, there was no possible way he could. If he were capable of rational thought, Smokey may very well have thought that his new home in the country would be good enough, but it still was not where he belonged. He may have enjoyed the tuna, but it was not his home. He needed me to leave my home, go get him and bring him back
We are the same way, in need of our savior. We are lost with no hope of getting home. We may want to come to Christ, or we may be content being in a situation other than where we are meant to be. We may find a substitute that is good, but it is at the expense of what is best.
For some, the substitute is their career, for others it is their hobby. For some people, addiction, technology, or even their families are substitutes for being home. Heck, we may not even know, believe, or care that we are lost, but that does not change the fact that we are. I will go so far as to say that we are not even capable of having a rational thought of our lost condition until Christ calls us to him. The consciousness of our condition is awakened when he makes us aware of our need to be sought-out and brought home. Scripture is full of this message (Ephesians 2:8-9 for example).
To follow this line of thought a little further, Smokey was actually in a better situation than we are in before Christ comes to get us and bring us home. While he may have very well died in the wilderness, Ephesians 2:1 says that we are actually dead in our sin. The last time I checked, dead people are not conscious of their condition. We are not only incapable of going home, but incapable of any awareness that we are not at home. Christ has to do all the work. He calls us, awakens us, gives us the desire to go home, then comes and gets us.
When we finally get home we, like Smokey, know we have arrived. It is then that Heaven rejoices just as our family did over Smokey.