I never wanted a cat. As a boy I never had a cat or desired one. I never imagined that as an an adult I would own a cat. But, I married a cat lover. Donna never imagined not having a cat. After many catless years, I gave her a cat for Christmas. I still don’t have great affection for cats, but I love my wife very much. We named our cat Sophie.
We have had Sophie now for almost two years. I admit that over this period of time I am more confused than ever by cat lovers. I get having a dog. Dogs are lovable, they greet you with joy at the door when you come home, they forgive quickly when you step on their paws, and desire to live close to you every day.
Cats are just the opposite in almost every way. Sophie doesn’t pay any attention to me or seem to care for me in any way. I would say she is indifferent about me, but that term may be too strong – it would mean she gives me some thought. She has never come running to greet me or shown any desire to meet any of my needs. People tell me this is typical of a cat. Which leads to my question – “Why would someone want a cat as a pet?”
Sophie is very demanding, especially in the morning. She has a cranky meow she uses when she wants us to drop whatever we are doing to serve her. Nothing we may be doing is more important than serving Queen Sophie!
Last week I had one of those moments with Sophie. She started her cranky meow and expected me to jump up immediately and serve her. Because I have this irrational hope that I will develop a relationship with her, I did stop what I was doing, got up and fed her. She did not want to be petted. She did not want to be with me. She only wanted food. My only value was that I could open the can of cat food. After she ate, she quickly went outside, not to be seen again until dinner time. I had the sense (not the first time) that I had just been used.
Recently I was working on a sermon on the death of Christ. Part of my sermon focused on Mark 10:45 which is Christ’s mission statement of his work and purpose. Jesus said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This passage came to my mind as I was wallowing in my self pity about being a cat owner. Perhaps God brought a cat into my life to teach me to be a servant. I was reminded of a poem by Ruth Calkin Harms, “I Wonder.” In that poem Harms wonders how she would respond if the Lord called on her to daily “wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman…in a room where nobody saw and nobody knew.”
Most of us like to do service that we get recognized for. Service for someone that appreciates us and acknowledges our value is rewarding. It’s easy for me to preach on Sundays and hear accolades afterwards at the back door. Servanthood gets tougher when there is no praise, no thanks, and no appreciation.
But isn’t that the servanthood that God calls us to. To follow Christ and serve others even when no one sees, no one knows, and no one seems to care. Do I serve because Christ has served me or do I serve because it provides an opportunity for me to feel good about myself and for others to recognize me?
I have little hope that my relationship with Sophie is ever going to deepen. But I’m beginning to see that God is using Sophie to teach me the important lesson of serving. I don’t believe I am going to become a cat person. I think it is also unlikely that Sophie will ever show gratitude and appreciation. But I will continue to serve Sophie and pray God will make me a more sanctified believer who is ready to serve others, looking for and expecting nothing in return.
Do you have a servant’s heart? Even when there is no appreciation or recognition?