Excerpt from the book Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand by Rick Lawrence.
A month ago our crazy-making gray cat, Penny, survived, barely, the worst experience of her life. Among her many other peculiarities (including, but not limited to: scream-meowing in our basement every day for no apparent reason, defecating on the concrete five inches from her litter box for no apparent reason, and sneaking outside to hide out of reach under our deck for no apparent reason) she’s absolutely terrible at cleaning herself after she “does her business,” as my wife’s family likes to describe you-know-what. In short, there’s what we’ll call “crusty matter” hanging off her haunches on most days.
Finally Bev couldn’t take it anymore and decided (with no regard for what others were doing at that particular random moment, I have to say) to grab that cat Penny and clean off her hinterlands in the bathtub. At first my older daughter, Lucy, was recruited for this suicide mission, but she quickly realized she’d have to maintain a perpetual death grip on a fifteen-pound cat as she was plunged into water for the first time in her life, and Lucy was having none of that. So, against my will and despite firm protests that I was NOT going to get involved in this covert operation, I stepped in to manhandle Penny into the bathtub.
While Bev was at one end furiously scrubbing the “particulates” off of Penny’s hindquarters with warm water and liquid soap, I was at the other end, desperately trying to hold on to the scruffy neck of an animal who was sure she was about to die. Her eyes bored into me with disbelief and panic and she frantically tried to claw her way out of the jaws of death. But I tightened my grip and gritted my teeth and held on- no small feat, because I’m positive her girth would remind you of Jabba the Hutt. Thirty seconds into this operation she had the kind of look on her face that you’d have if someone was shoving you feet-first into a wood chipper. She thrashed and growled and dug her claws into my arm while Bev continued to soap up Penny’s nether regions with the sort of trademark thoroughness that, in this case, we honestly couldn’t afford.
And finally when it was all over, we pulled that pathetic, fur-soaked Penny out of the tub and wrapped her in a warm towel and stroked her head and told her that we loved her. I’m no cat whisperer, but I’m pretty sure she was thinking what you and I would be thinking if we were a pampered, half-crazed house cat that has just emerged from her first “acid” bath: “What was THAT?”
Now weeks later, and Penny still slinks from me whenever it looks as though I might actually make a slight movement in her general direction. Her trust in me has been violated by a shattering event her mind can make no sense of- the comfort and safety she assumed around me has now been cross-examined and thrown out of court. Before her bathing, I was merely just another piece of useful furniture to her. But now I am dangerous and untrustworthy to her. I can see she’s having trouble, intense trouble, squaring the food-supplying, head-scratching, lap-offering me with the incarcerating, torturing, and suddenly random me. If I was like a god to Penny… then the bath incident has apparently turned her into an agnostic. A few more episodes like this one, and she’ll go the distance to atheism.
So how do we typically make sense of the inexplicable near-death episodes in our own lives? What do we do when God seems to be dipping us in acid or shoving us into the wood chipper, with His supposedly merciful face inches from our own and His eyes locked on ours, and all of our desperate protestations and life-or-death caterwauling gets us nowhere with Him? In fact, many of us would say that His grip on the scruff of our necks gets even tighter the louder we protest… Even when the trauma is behind us and we’re safe and enveloped in our metaphorical warm towel, we can’t forget or forgive the horrific offense of what He has done to us…
I recently heard that another one of my friends from long ago is no longer serving the Lord. She’s angry about a lot of things. She’s angry at God, too, I think. This makes me really sad to think about. I recently read a devotional with the theme of admonishing people to stop being angry with God. I was a bit shocked that the author thought that this problem was wide-spread enough to include in an international email. But the more I think about it, the more I believe he is right. There are a lot of people out there who are mad at God, for one reason or another.
I think I need to make one thing clear, I don’t think that people who are mad at God are going to Heaven. Think about it. If you are mad at God, why would you WANT to be with Him for all eternity? You certainly won’t feel like worshiping Him forever and ever. Now, can a person recover from their anger against God? Yes, but it is in part an exercise of their free will. It does not happen naturally. Left to their natural tendencies, an angry person will eventually become a God-hater. That’s a Hellish rut that requires the tow-truck of the Holy Spirit to pull you out of. But if, with your free will, you’ve denied the Spirit access to your heart’s hitch, how will He ever be able to pull you to safety?
Like Penny the cat who suffered through a bath, we don’t always understand what God is doing. He seems random and frightening and torturous and malicious. But He’s not. He’s probably just washing the poop off your butt. With Penny’s little cat-brain she couldn’t comprehend what was happening to her. With your little human brain, you can’t possibly understand the Divine Being whose ways are “higher” than our ways. How could we possibly understand what God is doing?
So just like it’s ridiculous for Penny to be angry with her humans over the bath incident, it is ridiculous for you, Created Being, to be angry with your Creator. Let go of your anger against God before it’s too late.
Photo credits: the photo was taken from this page http://sgforums.com/forums/1796/topics/191114