Have you ever tried to outwait your cat?
It always happens around 11 p.m., right when I’m falling asleep. As soon as my lights are off, I hear a long whine — I only recognize it as a meow because I’ve heard my cat make it so many times. Sometimes I tell him to go away and I shut my window (which doesn’t work, by the way, as I can still hear the meowing). Sometimes I try the lie-very-still tactic to try to trick him into thinking I’m not there. Always, though, it turns into a battle of who can wait the longest: me, trying to ignore the cat, or my cat, meowing his heart out.
And I don’t believe I’ve ever won.
That’s at night. In the morning, I wake up to my dog. If I get up early enough that he’s still sleeping, then he does this adorable little tail-thump while still lying on the ground. But as soon as he wakes up, he runs in circles around me till I feed him. After breakfast, he rubs up against me to be petted. If I ignore him, he picks up my shoe and relocates it for me.
When I come home in the afternoon, he’s always so excited that I came home. He wants me to throw his ball for him, despite the fact that most afternoons I tell him no (don’t worry, there are other people who help give him exercise). When I do throw it for him, I feel very accomplished. That is, until the next day when he wants me to throw it for him again. It’s like he lives in anticipation of someone throwing it for him.
If nothing else, my pets are persistent. They know what they want, and they get it. They’re just doing what they were made to do, acting like they were made to act.
My Version of Fetch
It’s cute and funny to think about what our animals live for. But their lives also teach us a little bit about ourselves — what are we living for? What do we get excited for everyday?
We were made to commune with God. Do we wake up each day looking forward to time with Him?
Not me. I wish I got excited about it, but often I just don’t. Often I push off until the end of the day anything I could do to commune with God. And by then, I’m too tired.
Unlike my pets, who never forget what they want, I often forget about even talking to God. While my dog is ecstatic to play fetch, I barely remember to read the very Word of God. While my cat meows his heart out every night, I can barely pray without falling asleep.
It’s frustrating to know that my heart is not where it should be — that I am not doing what I am created to do. And I’ve talked to many others who struggle with the same problem. They, like me, are frustrated that even though they love God, keeping that love alive seems a burden. And they feel guilty that it is so hard.
The problem is that we’re not animals, driven only by instincts. We’re complex human beings — image bearers with hearts infected by sin so that we’re constantly pulled in different directions. That’s why Paul says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
So even when we know that we are supposed to love God and love communing with Him, we don’t. We sinfully put our time into other things, and our hearts start to love those things more than they love God. And we see ourselves moving in that direction, but we can’t stop it.
Wonderfully, God doesn’t wait for us to go to Him. He showed us what true love is, not only by giving us loving pets, but by giving us himself in Jesus.
Moreover, each day His persistence and faithfulness reminds me of my pets. Like my dog, He keeps coming to us in love every day, even if we ignored Him yesterday.
Even though I do not love God like I should, I have every confidence that I will some day. Because God is also like my cat — each day, the Holy Spirit calls us to action. And no matter how hard we try to ignore Him, His call will win.
Together, the love of the Father in Christ and the call of the Holy Spirit will make us love God as we were created to. Our love doesn’t grow in an upward linear fashion. Nevertheless, God loves us and will keep coming after us until we love Him with our whole hearts.