For more than a year now, I have been caring for some outdoor cats. They each have their own stories: one is a neighbor’s cat who has decided he would rather live at my house; another a stray who wandered into my life while she was pregnant; a third who is the kitten of the aforementioned pregnant mama; and a fourth who came to my house out of fear and desperation when my neighbors who were caring for her got a dog, effectively ending her tenure in their backyard. It might sound strange, but God has shown me many things through these cats.
This past winter was particularly brutal. For days on end the temperatures dipped far below zero and the wind whipped up, creating wind chills of 50 below. Yes, brutal. Concerned for the very lives of these cats, I rounded up three of them in my garage and closed the door for the duration. Under better circumstances, they had access to my garage, but were free to come and go as they pleased. Suddenly, they were stuck in there. But they had food, shelter, warm cozy beds, water, attention and even a makeshift litter box. What else did they need?
And still, they cried for the outdoors, not knowing that what they wanted so badly at that time could have been their demise. Not knowing the potential dangers of their sought-after escape from the cruel confines of the garage! All they knew is they were suddenly stuck and wanted out! What they didn’t realize, of course, is that it was for their good.
My mother-in-law, after I had relayed these tales of woe to her, said, “Isn’t that just like us? Stuck somewhere, not realizing God has us there for our good?”
There’s a devotional I treasure that echoes this sentiment. It tells the story of two songbirds trapped in a cage. The one, desperate for its release, tirelessly beats its wings against the bars of its cage, threatening to break its own wings, exhausting itself and its limited resources. The other sits on its perch and sings despite the bars surrounding its tiny life, thus creating, in a way, its own freedom.
Isn’t this us in our circumstances, too? We cry out to God to end our pain, end the trials, do anything to get us out of this awful cage in which we are trapped! We exhaust ourselves, endlessly raging against where God has placed us. We complain and murmur and cry for things to be different! But don’t we also have food, water, shelter and so much more right now, even though we are stuck in our own garages with God? Instead of all the complaints and cries, we could be singing, making ourselves free.
Are you familiar with the old hymn “I Surrender All?” Have you ever sung its words? Do they resonate in your mind now? “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give…All to thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”
But do we? Do we really surrender all? Do we surrender to our circumstances, trusting He has us where He wants us? Or are we like the cats stuck in the garage, not realizing where we are right now is for our good? Are we like the bird in the cage, breaking our own wings in an attempt to get free?
God is doing something in you right now, while you wait, while you feel so trapped. And He is doing something in me too. We probably all know the silver refiner’s methods by now, heating the silver with unbearable temperatures and skimming off the impurities until the refiner can see the reflection of his face in the silver.
God longs to see His own face, His own reflection, in us. He longs to develop Christlikeness in us. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29 (KJV)
Do we take the time to slow down and ask God what He wants to teach us through all of this? Is He refining us? Preparing us? Protecting us? Something else? All of the above? Does He simply want us to trust Him though we don’t understand? Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (KJV) Do we trust that where He has us right now is for our good? Truly?
For the record, all of the cats survived. More than that, they regained their freedom in time. You and I will too. So maybe it’s time to start singing and leave the rest up to Him.
Kate in Nebraska
Rejoice Marriage Ministries