Blackie And The ‘Possum

I have observed the cutest thing lately; the friendship between a cat and a opossum (in the southern US it’s pronounced ‘possum).  Our cat, Blackie, has a house outside with three levels.  On top of this structure are his food and water bowls.  Several times over the past two weeks, around 8:00pm, a ‘possum comes on the scene.

I remember the first time I stepped outside and saw this visitor.  There was the ‘possum eating from Blackie’s food bowl and there was Blackie calmly observing, sitting right next to him.  It was like Blackie had invited the ‘possum over for dinner.  Since that time I have taken to putting extra food in Blackie’s bowl in the evening.  “Here’s some extra for your ‘possum friend,” I explain to Blackie, knowing of course, that he understands everything I say to him.

Contrary to this friendly ‘possum visitor, there is an orange cat that lives across the road who is not known for displaying a gentle nature.  Every now and again, he too, comes for a visit, but not a friendly one.  He hisses and snarls at Blackie, at times even jumping on him with claws extended.  I’ve noticed that, now when Blackie sees the orange cat coming, he simply gets out of the way.

I find there is so much wisdom in God’s nature. Christians are instructed to love everyone.  When someone abuses us, we are told to “turn the other cheek.”  Sadly, that has been misunderstood to mean, be anyone’s doormat.  It does not mean that at all.  My father used to say, “be kind to everyone; if they are not kind, but cruel, then turn the other cheek; but remember, you only have one cheek to turn.  Jesus was nobody’s doormat and we are not to be either.”  My father was a kind, humble, and wise man. He showed kindness to all but, like Blackie the cat, if someone arrived to do nothing but offer abuse, he just got out of the way.

We are to seek opportunities to show love and kindness to others, even strangers. However, if another continually, like a toxin, brings poison into our peace; thereby shattering our joy, just keep out of the way.  We are instructed to be vessels of love, bringing peace and kindness into our worlds.  We are not to take revenge.  We are to be kind to the unkind but we don’t have to stand there and let someone habitually wipe their feet on us.

May this new year bring you wisdom in all your relationships.  May you be a person filled with God’s love, being His hands of help, and His words of encouragement, but may you remember, no one has to habitually entertain toxic people.  My father also used to say, “no one has the right to take your joy, unless you let them.” May we all have the heart of Blackie to lovingly share our food bowls with the ‘possums that suddenly enter our world, while having the wisdom to simply get out of the way when hissing cats will continually leap into our paths.

“Bless those who persecute you.  Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them….Never pay back evil with evil.  Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God…..Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”      Romans 12:14,17-18, 19, 21

Happy New Year everyone!  May all your relationships be blessed with the love of God and with His wisdom.

In The Presence Of Enemies

To me, one of the worst sounds is a cat fight. The high pitched screams can make my skin crawl. To see the fight, a wild tumble of fur and claw, adds to the terror of the moment! Such a terrible sound came to my ears just two days ago. I ran to the window in time to see an intruder cat jumping on Blackie, our sweet-natured, black and white cat, who had been calmly eating his dinner. Everything went into a blur as the two became one in an entanglement of anger and fear.

I ran outside but the enemy cat was already sprinting away in a quick flash of white and gray. Blackie was no where to be seen until I peeked under the car. There he was, wide eyed, crouching, ready to fight or take flight. I called him. He didn’t move. I talked softly; still, he hunched unmoved in his fear.

I stood and went over to his food bowl. I straightened the towel under his bowl. I poured more food. I stood waiting for several minutes, calling for Blackie. Finally, there was my boy. I petted him, stroking his back. He kept looking around nervously; then he began to eat. Every now and again Blackie would look up, glancing around him. I kept stroking him, speaking tender words. He ate until he was full; stretched, and began his grooming routine. Then I started to walk away, but his eyes turned wild once more. I returned, again petting him, speaking calm words until finally, he was settled even when I turned to go.

When I got back inside, I went to the kitchen window to look out. There was Blackie staring at the window. When he saw me, he began to eat some more of his food. Blackie was obviously taking comfort and courage in my presence. In my presence he had confidence that the enemy would stay away, if only for a time.

Psalm 23 came immediately to my mind. Verse 5 says this, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”

Oh, the fears of life that can paralyze us, rendering our minds unable to think clearly, or our wills to move us forward. We gaze about nervously. Perhaps it’s the enemy of worry: about family needs, friend’s in trouble, financial concerns, poor health. Worry is a joy robber. Like Blackie, when it attacks, we freeze, perhaps we hide ourselves away, until we remember, our Heavenly Father is always at home in our hearts. He will give us His own peace in the midst of the things that worry us. He speaks encouraging and soothing words. He gives us what we need today, and promises not to leave us tomorrow. In His presence there is always hope. In His presence we are safe, even in the presence of the enemies that plague our minds.

When the enemy strikes, let’s remember to turn our focus from the enemy of worry, and gaze into the peace and hope of our Father. He will anoint our heads with the oil of gladness, and our cup of need will overflow with blessings of hope and courage.