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Several years ago, I decided I needed a cat at the barn to control the massive mouse population, so I hired Spike and his mama. I deposited them in my tack room with a litter box, fluffy bed, and food and water. Mama Cat, without a moment of hesitation or repentance, ran up the wall, jumped onto the top of the freezer, then out the open window.
I never saw her again.
She left little Spike behind. He wasn’t happy without his mama, so I adopted a second kitten, Max, to keep him company in the barn and help him catch mice.
The partnership didn’t work well.
The two kittens lived in the barn until their little legs grew enough to carry them down the gravel road. As soon as they were able to make the trip, they followed me back to my house. I returned them to the barn. They scampered to the house again the minute I turned my back. On and on it went. Day after day.
They never caught a mouse.
I don’t know what happened to Spike, but he eventually disappeared. Max stayed but refused to catch mice or go to the barn. He had a tendency to wander away for days at a time but, mostly, he hung around my back door.
When Max was a young kitty, a bed fell on him and he was crippled, or so I was told. By the time he arrived at my house, his physical recovery was complete.
His mental/emotional recovery was not as successful. He wouldn’t snuggle, couldn’t purr, and he bit anyone who picked him up. We changed his name to “Biting Cat.” One of my veterinarian friends called him “the devil cat.” Both names fit.
The problem of cat-dreadlocks
Max had another problem. He wouldn’t groom himself. Instead, he opted for dreadlocks. Over the course of a winter, his dreadlocks grew so long it was hard for him to walk.
“You should do something for that poor cat,” Sam (my neighbor) told me.
“I’d have to shave him,” I insisted.
“You better put him in a feed sack to hold him before you try that.”
“Sam, if I put him in a feed sack, I can’t shave him.”
We went back and forth. Finally, I convinced Sam to hold the cat while I used the clippers to shave off his dreadlocks. Max bit Sam before the clippers touched him, and he let the cat go.
“You should sneak up on him while he’s not looking,” Sam suggested. We pondered that a while. Finally, I found some small, quiet battery-operated clippers. I stalked the cat and waited for my chance.
One day, Max (AKA Biting Cat) was asleep in a chair on the patio. I tiptoed over, turned on my clippers, and raked his side. Several dreadlocks fell off before he awakened, growled, and ran away.
The next day, I tried a different technique. I patted him with one hand and shaved a section with the other. This worked better but was so awkward that I conned Sam into taking over the petting job. Because of the previous biting episode, Sam was skittish but agreed.
Days went by as we shaved one patch at a time. The cat looked pitiful. Finally, the dreadlocks were gone. Most of Biting Cat’s hair was gone, too. His few remaining patches of hair looked even worse than the dreadlocks.
Sam stared at the cat for a long time before he spoke. “I wouldn’t tell anyone that was my cat if it was me.”
The shaving project was an educational experience.
We repeated the shaving program every spring. After a few years, Sam and I grew more adept in our technique and Biting Cat grew accustomed to the spring shave. He let me hold him for a few seconds. He learned to purr and caught a mouse or two.
This past Christmas, Max (AKA Devil Cat) had an unhappy encounter with my grand-dog, Bento, who wanted to play. Unfortunately, Biting Cat wanted to do what he does best. Bite. I’m not sure what happened next, but Biting Cat left in an angry huff and didn’t return for several weeks.
Another spring brings more dreadlocks
I thought Max died in the winter cold, but no such luck. Sorry, Cat Lovers. I meant I was so happy this mean-spirited biting cat found his way back home. He arrived covered in dreadlocks again, yowling like a demon-cat at the back door. I dished out one bowlful after another of cat pate until he finally quit howling.
Max apparently tired of his dreadlocks when the weather warmed up. He began to rub against my leg with his lumpy dreadlocks every time I walked outside. The first time, it surprised me so much I jumped off the steps onto the patio and barely missed crashing to the ground. He yowled and tried to rub my leg again as I went back inside. I wanted nothing to do with those freaky dreadlocks.
Max needs a spring shave, but this is my first year without Sam, who moved to heaven not long before Thanksgiving. I’ve lost my cat-shaving partner. If anyone is interested in the job, which pays nothing but is good for a few laughs, (or a few bites) leave your comment below.
Max needs more than a spring shave
There is no way to describe how bad Max looks with his winter dreads. He’s in dire need of a spring shave, which will greatly improve his appearance. Cleaning up the outside of Max will make him more presentable, but it won’t help what’s wrong on his inside.
As far as cats go, Max is grumpy and mean, even to the people who care the most about him. He bites indiscriminately before he stops to consider, “Is this the lady who feeds me very nice cat pate every day?”
Max needs a spring cleanup on the inside, too. What he needs most is a change of heart.
I realize I need a spring clean-up, too, but I need a repentance clean-up.
I’ve had a hard few months. I don’t deny it, but I don’t mention it as an excuse, either. One hard thing after another came in quick succession, then the eye problem began. Eye pain alternated with eye blurriness and, most of the time, I had them together. I struggled to get the new website going, made much harder because part of the time I could hardly see my computer screen.
The longer the eye problem lasted, the more discontented I became. I wanted it to be over. I was tired of discomfort. Ready for clear vision. Uncertain about the future. Fear crept in and grew like kudzu. I rebuked it with only temporary success.
I took a digital break, then slowed down the blog.
Finally, I quit writing.
I didn’t tell anyone except myself, but I grew tired of the struggle. What difference does it make if I write or not? I asked myself.
It doesn’t matter at all, I replied.
Thank God for friends who speak the truth in love.
A friend yesterday said, “You never write anymore. You never even post on Facebook.” I denied it, but I knew it was true.
Later, my sweet mentoring partner and I met for coffee and to catch up. I finally voiced my distress.
“You need to go back to what God told you to do and keep doing it until he tells you to do something else. What did He say about the blog?”
“Well, it was His idea in the first place,” I confessed.
“Did God tell you to stop writing?” she asked me.
“Sounds like you better get back to writing then,” she said with a smile.
I laughed. “I’ll have to repent first.”
And so I did. I confessed my disappointment, my disillusionment, and my fear. Then, I repented of my refusal to persevere and asked for one more second chance, which God freely gave.
I doubt I’m the only one who grows weary in the midst of difficulties and wants to give up. Am I the only one who, in the midst of a hard time, secretly decides to quit what God has called me to do? Am I the only one who needs a spring heart clean-up? Probably not.
Here’s good news.
We serve a God who’s already paid the price for all our sin and is both ready and willing to forgive and cleanse us. He doesn’t lurk for a chance to pounce on us or sneak up on us with punishment.
He simply waits for us to confess so He can forgive and do what only He can do. Cleanse us completely. It’s spring cleaning at its finest.
We can be washed white as snow, if we admit our sin, confess it, and sincerely repent. (Isaiah 1:18) Why not join me in a spring heart-cleanup? I think you’ll be glad you did.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
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