Okay, so here’s your fair warning. I’m tired. When I’m tired I get emotional, doubtful of my own abilities, and pretty nutsy in my thought processes. You’ve been warned. Read on at your own risk.
This morning before we got out of bed, we had a progression of cats informing us that it was time for their morning routine. As they processed through, I heard different levels of purring.
First there’s Jack – the old man of the house. He purrs so loudly that Mom was able to hear him over our Skype video chat this afternoon! In fact, we often hear Jack’s purr before we see him. He is almost always purring! Yes, even when he’s not totally happy. When we first got him and he was so very sick, we had to try to bathe him. Even though the bath was horribly uncomfortable for him, his purr continued through the first half of the bath as if he knew we loved him despite the cruelty of the bath. And, although he hates having his claws trimmed, he will purr even through most of that experience.
Smokey, the mama cat, has never purred extensively. Occasionally when she is very, very, very content, we’ll more feel than hear a soft purr. The interesting thing about Smokey, though, is that her purring has increased, especially in the last few months. In fact, she has lately begun purring in anticipation of a good loving instead of waiting until she’s been loved on for a while. And, we can actually hear her purr now! It’s almost as if, after four years, we have finally convinced her that she is secure in our home. She is finally discovering contentment.
Finally, there’s Mina – Smokey’s ornery part-Siamese offspring who hardly ever purrs. Therefore, she is irrelevant to this post!
As I contemplated Jack and Smokey’s purring in my early morning drowsiness, I thought about the connection between their purrs and our worship. Keeping in mind that analogies always break down (some sooner than others) and that I am strictly using the act of purring as a sign of security and contentment, just think with me about these two cats.
Jack has lived a pretty long life, for a cat. And, to be honest, his life probably hasn’t been the easiest. But, he knows when he is loved. Even when the kids manhandle him a little more roughly than his arthritic bones prefer. Even when we don’t really want to hold him. Even when his meals are a little late. Even when his claws absolutely must be trimmed. Even in all those times, he is confident that he is loved. He is content. He is secure. He is happy. He shows it by purring – loudly, noticeably, and regularly.
Smokey, on the other hand, has not been very secure in our home. She had a rough start to life, and she has always been a bit skittish. Finally in the last year she has begun to grow in her trust. She is growing in her contentment and security. And she is showing it through her purrs. She still doesn’t purr when things aren’t going well for her. But, even in those times she is learning to be calmer. She’s not nearly as frantic as she once was.
So, how is all of this related to worship? Well, think about it. How free are we in worship? Are we like Smokey? Have we gotten to the point where we can be relatively calm and trusting when things aren’t quite going our way? In all honesty, that is beautiful worship. But it’s still limited. Completely free worship is when we are more like Jack. When we lift up our hearts in worship whether we are getting our spiritual claws trimmed or being overwhelmed by showers of love. Whether we’re scared to death with uncertainty or immersed in security.
The beautiful thing about using the cats’ purring as an example is the fact that we can see the growth in Smokey. I don’t know what Jack was like as a young cat. It might have been in his personality to be so content, but then again, he could have had to grow into it like Smokey is doing.
Learning to truly be free in the worship of our Creator is a growing process. I want to become like Jack, but I pray I’m also like Smokey – continually growing and making visible progress. And one day, I pray the evidence of my worship will be as profound as Jack’s purr being heard across Skype and the miles!