Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trust-based living

Yesterday hubby and I went to see my mom and brother in a neighboring province. As we got ready to leave their house, I noticed a cat sitting on the door-step, about two feet away from the door, meowing. The cold wind was blowing its long fur, but it kept its distance from the door. "Who is this?" I asked my mom. 

"Oh that's the neighbor's cat." She sighed. "They don't feed her, so she comes here about once a day for her breakfast. Sometimes she comes at suppertime too. But," she warned, "don't try to get close. She's wild and she'll bite. Sunk her teeth into my hand when I tried to touch her." 

As I opened the door, the cat shrank back away from me. It crouched, laid its ears back, and then held its ground. I could tell this animal was as close to feral as I've ever seen - there was a total lack of trust in its eyes. I didn't need to use much imagination to figure out how it got that way.

I was familiar with the family my mom spoke about. All my childhood, they'd abused their animals through ignorance, neglect, and physical violence, and I was never permitted to intervene. The attitude of the day was that animals were nothing but property and that it wasn't my place to tell another person how to treat his or her property. Little if anything bothered me as much as someone mistreating a creature that couldn't defend itself, and that hasn't changed. I bristled, and was sputtering indignant, unintelligible syllables as I walked down the stairs and toward our vehicle. Once inside, I ranted to my husband. He listened. He agreed. He sympathized. 

Our cat, Loki - at 10 months
And when we got home, our cat ran to meet us at the door. He purred, and rubbed against our legs, curling his tail around them as he showed his delight in our presence. "Love and kindness," I thought, "produces trust. And love in return." 

The contrast between the two cats' reactions was like night and day. The cat on Mom's doorstep didn't trust anyone - had learned not to trust anyone, because it had grown up in a loveless atmosphere. The one who greeted us at our door knew love. He knew gentleness and tenderness. And he loved - and trusted.

I couldn't help thinking how there are believers in Christendom who believe that God is a big bully with a rule-book. Even if they SAY that they believe He is love, they talk about Him withholding blessings, or other such cause-and-effect legalistic stuff. They truly believe that it is their responsibility to "maintain" what God has already given so freely, by "producing fruit" (as if any of it was up to them.) 

I used to be in that camp ... and the more I grow to know and be known by Jesus, the more I realize that God is not like those neighbors who provide a cold, drafty barn and little else (and certainly not affection or tenderness!) for what are supposed to be "companion" animals. He's full of joy and delight just because we are His children. He loves us individually (isn't that the meaning of "whosoever"?) and gives us all things - starting with full and free forgiveness through His grace, power for living day-to-day through His grace, unconditional love and acceptance past, present and future, and oh yes, did I mention His grace??? 

We don't need to do God's job for Him. We don't have to coerce people into following the rules. We can let God the Holy Spirit do what He does best, and we just enjoy His love and revel in His grace. 

Trusting Him is possible only when we believe that God is for us. Listen to the words of Paul, "If God be for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8) 

That's true living. That's an exciting adventure! This kind of living is not based on whether we follow a rule-book or check off our little daily tick-boxes of 'religious stuff I gotta do today to be blessed by God.' Let's be free from that kind of formula-based living and move to a lifestyle that is based on trusting His heart for us - His heart of love. For you. For me. For Aunt Sue. For Uncle Robert. For those neighbors who need Him so desperately. That is trust-based living. That's living by faith..

That's living.

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