Monday, March 13, 2006
I am Ice-T's Lord and Savior
Ice-T ran into the garage this morning when I dashed in to get a non-beef-non-pork frozen lunch to tote to work.
I was in a hurry and running late and the last dang thing I needed was to have to try to outfox a cat in the briarpatch that is the garage.
But in I went, into the labyrinth of empty boxes, unused household items, yard tools, holiday decorations and what have you. There was Ice-T, under a wicker headboard leaned up against a trash can and sitting on the footboard.
Foolishly, in a rush, I decided to roll all my dice at once, so to speak: I grabbed his tail -- and ROWR! -- he dug in and scootched away.
Went back in the house and declared to Dr. ER that the dang cat could stay in the garage, that I was going to work, and that when he got cold enough or hungry he would come to the door and meow and she could let him back in the house part of the house.
"Well, Mao used to do that. I don't know if Ice-T will," she said, referrin' to the first cat that adopted us, a wild, bobtailed critter that most definitely was not a house cat, despite having been liberated of his claws by a previous owner.
(Remember: This was the kitty that showed up on 9/11. He was given the name "Mao" partly because that was what he said all the time and partly because by the time we realized he was a full-time denizen of our front porch, I was neck-deep in a graduate seminar on modern China.)
So, I relented. Went into the kitchen to get the big plastic jug of cat feed, toted it out to rhe garage and made sweet-sounding noises while rattling the feed in the jug.
It took several minutes, but Ice-T finally showed himself, and after another several minutes he stopped running and being scared long enough for me to walk right up and pick him up and love on him and take him back in the house.
And it dawned on me that I had just lived a metaphor for God's love for us, which is a good thing since the Max Lucado reading this morning didn't do much for me, relying as it did on Isaiah's passages regarding the Messiah.
I'm rethinking the place of those Scriptures in my faith, and daily devotions are not all thinking and rethinking; they should be part prayer and part just shutting up and letting God's grace come on you anew. Thinking got in the way of grace.
So God's grace for me this morning came on little cat's feet.
Time and again, I see a door open and rush in without thinking, or with wrong-headed thinking, and the door closes behind me, leaving me in darkness. Whatever shining things attracted me in the first place disappear in the shadows.
It gets cold and I can't see as well as I first could, or thought I could -- and I start bumping into dangers, toils and snares and tripping over things. Sounds, smells and other things that seemed exciting when the door first opened are scary with it shut.
But the fact is, like Ice-T, I'm never really alone. God comes and gets me and saves me from the dark and the cold and all those sharp, unfamiliar, dangerous things.
Most importantly, he saves me from myself, my irrationality and my impetuosity and my simple human curiosity, which often gets us in predicaments before we realize it.
I love my stupid cat, Ice-T. Imagine -- imagine! -- how much more God loves us, to always -- always! -- come rescue us from the cold, dark garages of life rather than waiting for us to get cold and hungry and come whining at the door begging to be let back in.
Ice-T did not have to get desperate and go back to the door for me to let him back in the house. I followed him round and round in the garage, chasing him, really, waiting for him to relent.
God does not require us to go back to the place in life where we made the mistake that led us to separation, and darkness and cold. He chases us round and round until we get tired of running and let Him pick us up.
That's what it means to be a Lost Sheep. That's grace, and that's why it's amazing.
Anyway, you still owe me a meme reply on my blog.
Actually, Ice-T has no business in the garage. So, installing a cat door, to further the metaphor, might be the difference between liberty and license.
If I installed a cat door, it would be me rubbing grace in God's face.
Romans 6: 1-2 comes to mind.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
Trixie. Yes, I do owe you a meme!
On the other-hand, Trixie, I mightally enjoyed the "cat door Jesus". It conjures so many images, and extrapolations of thought. Kinda punches a hole in the universe.
ER,if I were in my old Southern Baptist mode, I might be tempted to say that you're under "conviction".
Now for a less serious observation:
Cats do not have owners, they have staff.
My goal is to live more and more consistently under "conviction," in the sense of:
"The work of the Holy Spirit where a person is able to see himself as God sees him: guilty, defiled, and totally unable to save himself (John 16:8). Conviction of the Holy Spirit of an unbeliever reveals sinfulness and guilt and brings fear. Conviction of the Holy Spirit of the believer brings an awareness of sin and results in confession and cleansing. This conviction is produced by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), the Gospel (Acts 2:37), the conscience (Rom. 2:15), and the Law (James 2:9). Conviction of our sins brings us to the cross. It shows us our need for forgiveness."
Emphasis on "confession and cleansing."
Reconciliation. Reconnection. Blessing. Those are better words. There's nothing *wrong* with "forgiveness," especially since it fits the gist of the story as explained in Scripture.
But it does require explanation for the same reason that other Gospely concepts need to be explained and maybe even updated some.