THE GOSPEL DISTILLED from a CAT
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 6, 2011
“He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:5)
For those of you who think no good thing can come from a cat, think again. God spoke to Balaam through his ass, and He “spoke” to me through a cat. We live in a 5th wheel on the family farm, next to the barn. My mother is in the farm house now, with my sister as her care giver, and Lenny and I are about 300 ft. West of them. There must be a sign out there on Highway 59, in front of the house, which reads, “Suckers live here,” because people dump their unwanted cats for us to find and deal with. We now have 4, count them, FOUR kitties who have come to be part of our family. The last addition, several years ago was a beautiful male cat, to whom we gave the not so original name of Tom.
Tom was a lean, mean, fighting machine who drove off other feral males trying to get at our females. Unlike most feral males, he was very relational, very easy going with us and he fit in quite well. We had him neutered and that stopped his roaming, if not all of his amorous thoughts. He has watched over and protected our females like the mini “lion king” which he aspires to be.
Last week, I heard Baby, our oldest female, screaming outside and ran out to see Tom and a giant yellow male cat nose to nose, growling and hissing at each other. I got Baby out of the line of fire, and went back to see what I could do to run the yellow cat off. He wouldn’t budge. The yowling and howling amazed me because cats have the most incredible vocalizations I’ve ever heard. Since he wasn’t going to leave without encouragement, I got the spare cane Lenny keeps outside and whacked him a good one over the head. He didn’t respond in any way, but Tom saw his opportunity and leaped on the yellow cat. They fought and screamed, yowling, hissing, howling, and rolling, end over end, down the little hill into the weeds below. There they sat, noses about 6” apart, continuing to growl and make horrible threatening noises.
I finally went back inside, though I checked in on the fight scene several more times. At last, the yellow intruder decided this was a bad deal and slunk off to find some Tylenol for his head ache.
Tom was moving mighty slow and walked like I do when I get up with my back in spasm. Time moved on, and this week, Lenny saw a cat outside two days ago, but couldn’t tell what color it was because it was dark and his vision is so poor. When we got Tom in for the night, we realized that he was really hurt, crying in pain. We determined to bring him to the vet the next day, which we did.
He had an abscess on his neck which the vet cleaned and drained. She gave him an antibiotic shot and some pain meds and Lenny and I brought him home and put him gently on a pad so he could rest. As I write this, he is sleeping on Lenny’s lap, who himself is sleeping in his Lazy-Boy recliner.
What has this to do with the gospel? Simply this. Tom is a male cat, and neutered or not, he has been preprogrammed by genetics and God’s providence to defend his territory and his females to insure that the species may continue. He can’t help what he does because he does what he was created to do.
As I was pondering that, it flashed through my spirit that this is what Paul meant in Romans 11:32 (finally we get to the gospel), when he wrote: “For God consigned (penned up) ALL men to disobedience that He may have mercy upon ALL” I have quoted this verse nine million, five thousand, three hundred and seventy-two times, but it never ceases to thrill and move me.
What Paul is saying there is that we have been genetically preprogrammed to sin, to fail. Yes, Adam and Eve started it by disobeying God and eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but WHO put the tree there in the first place? WHO put the serpent there to point out its alleged virtues to them? WHO caused them to sin? It was the ONE who “knows the End from the Beginning,” the one who said “There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” (Deut. 32:39) Isaiah said of Him: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster, I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isa. 45:6-7)
And the prophet Amos declared, “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city has not the Lord caused it?” (Amos 3:6) This, of course, flies in the face of religion’s decrees that everything is man’s fault and if he repents and seeks God, then and only then can He do right and be assured of salvation. The Law of Moses set forth the most beautiful set of rules ever written for living a successful, peaceful, righteous life. However, since no one but Jesus could keep them, it didn’t bring the desired result mankind has longed for and continuously failed to achieve.
One more thought about our predisposition to fail and that is that if God had not intended to save everyone, then He would be the monster apparently Calvin thought He is, because according to the Calvin’s theology, a part of mankind is predestined to be saved and another part predestined to go to hell, no matter what they do or don’t do. Paul plainly said that God consigned ALL to disobedience so that He may have MERCY upon ALL!
The definition of insanity is to continue to do over and over again, what has failed in the past expecting a different result. There can be no different result from what God has ordained. Are we robots? Do we have any say in the matter? “No” to the first question, because what glory would our Father get from robotic obedience? And “No” to the second question as well, because what glory would our Father get if we could save ourselves by choosing good over evil, righteous living over sin? No worries there, because after some 1,500 years of trying and failing to live by the Law of Moses, and after another 2,000 years of trying and failing to live up to religion’s decrees, surely we get it that we just can’t do it.
This is not a downer, a bad news sort of thing, nor am I condoning sin and excusing evil. Where did evil come from? God created all things, and that this includes evil is an inescapable conclusion. Paul wrote, “for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:16-17) If we look at evil as an end in itself, that’s a rough pill to swallow, but if we look at evil as merely one more tool God has to bring us to Himself, then the brilliance of His eternal plan of salvation begins to unfold for us. He created everything that was created and He uses EVERYTHING to reveal His power and might and majesty TO us and IN us and THROUGH us and FROM us.
There is NOTHING more glorious than “the GOSPEL, which is the POWER of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew (believer) first and also to the Greek (unbeliever).” (Rom. 1:16)
We were destined to fail and fall short of the glory of God from the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but that is NOT the horrible news it may seem. Finding, as we have by millenniums of trial and error, that our efforts were doomed from the get-go, at last, we turn to the only solace there is in the Universe, God Himself. Christ left the portals of glory to come here and be birthed in blood and human suffering. Paul said of Him, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:6) We, who would be followers of Christ, children of God, continually find ourselves on the cross of our own ambitions, our failures, and our inability to ever get it right.
When we see His eternal plan unfolding in our lives, giving us the eternal victory in our Lord Jesus Christ, we fall on our faces in worship, and cry with all creation, “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
No longer counted as miserable creatures, preprogrammed for failure, we are reckoned righteous in CHRIST by God (Rom. 4:3), “seated in heavenly places” with Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom God has given “the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Col. 1:9-11) Our “consignment” to disobedience was temporal, but our predestination as righteous sons of God is eternal: “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:5-6) Because Christ came to live within us, He has given us the victory which overcomes the world. Father, we give You praise and honor and glory and thanksgiving, now and forever. And say we all, Amen.