I have given up on teaching my cats to ignore the shiny ornaments on the Christmas tree, perfect for batting and rolling. I have given up on teaching them that the little computer table really needs to stay upright if possible and that tablecloths are for draping, not for pulling loose to use in a mad game of hide and seek.
One thing I have not given up on is teaching them that counters are no place for animals. Here I will take my stand. Buckley is pretty easy to dissuade since he's not real big on new experiences anyway. I just clap really loud and say, "no," in a school-marm voice, and he leaps back to the carpet.
Jellybean is different. When I go into clapping school-marm mode with him, he stares at me, like, "well if you can use the counter, why can't I?"
Thus, today he got swiped off. It took me longer to recover from our behavior modification lesson than him. I felt kinda bad and fought the urge to sit him down and explain all the reasons why cats and counters don't mix and that his ejection hurt me more than him. While I worried about my cat-rearing skills, he landed on his feet, lay down and started licking himself. I chose not to interpret that as a message. Before ten minutes had passed, we were on good terms again and he was no longer pursuing access routes to the counter top.
I read Psalm 74 earlier this week. In it, the composer, Asaph, bemoans the plunder of Israel, asks God how long he'll let his own sheep suffer. He even refers to himself as God's dove. As in, "Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts..."
The OT is full of Israel running from God, facing the consequences, then running back. God is forever accepting them again until their next episode. And not because he has to. And not resentfully.
These are his doves. His beloved.
As am I. As are we.
I don't even realize it sometimes, but I can slip into a valley where I see God with his arms crossed, white beard twitching as he shakes his head at me. When I climb the counter and get knocked off, he points and judges and hopes I won't be dumb enough to fail again.
But that is so not the God who calls me His dove. I think it truly does hurt him more than me when I fall. He aches when I land and wants to hold me close. And tomorrow if I climb again and fall again, he'll still ache. He won't put me in a cardboard box on the front stoop with and write, "Free Kimberlys" on the front. No, He'll put the ornaments I knock free back, and nurture me until I learn, and even if I don't.
The best part of this whole analogy is how ridiculous it is.
While I may be something like a found barn cat, I am NOTHING like God. All my goodness is a smudge in comparison.
I do love my kittens. I love it when they curl up with me, when they look at me and meow like I might interpret what that means, when they fight over who gets to sit in the Christmas basket. I am glad to pay crazy sums for these free cats at the vet, and to haul them to Oklahoma on holidays.
And all that is just silliness when compared to how God loves us. His love is so big it would blow my head apart if the thought ever really fully entered in. So big that He did insane things like create cats and fir trees and smart people who invented the two-hour fire log. So big that He sent his only Son to be born and to live on this planet.
Even when I fail, even in the moments when I deserve to be punished, even when that happens....I am his dove. Wow. Today, grateful doesn't begin to cover it.