And God Sent A Cat

With everything that’s been going on, and all the craziness of the media, it’s natural that our minds and bodies are going to be more anxious, stressed, and tense.

A few weeks ago, I was praying in my bed, and talking to God about that. I wasn’t really sure what specifically I was worrying about, it was more of a generalized sense of anxiety. For context, I had just been on Facebook and y’all the negativity and fear on there is way out of proportion!

Anyway, so I had been praying about that and for the Lord to ease my mind and comfort me.

Literally seconds later my kitten, Ash, walks in my room, jumps on my bed, and curls up beside me. I started stroking his beautiful white and gray fur and found myself marveling at how Jesus works.

In the midst of my worry and needing comfort, He sent a small cat to stay by me and offer that joy and consolation. Even now, I absolutely love how Jesus used my little pet to minister to my heart.

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Examples of this exist in Scripture as well, the most notable of which that comes to mind is Elijah and the ravens, found in 1 Kings 17:2-6

“And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

Through Elijah, the Lord had just said that there would be a drought – no dew or rain for the next few years unless by His word. Not to mention, that Ahab was king, Jezebel as Queen, and they both were exceedingly evil people who were worshipping other gods and sacrificing their own children.

In the midst of this, the Lord used ravens to provide for Elijah’s physical needs of bread and meat. And I also like to think that He used animals (God could have simply caused it to appear or drop from the sky as He did for Israel in the desert) because He knew that Elijah was going to be lonely. Of course, animals aren’t the same level as human relationships, but how many of us during this pandemic have been grateful for our dogs, cats, birds, horses, etc?

Interestingly enough, in the article, “The Health Benefits of Companion Animals” from nps.gov says,

“Animals have been demonstrated to improve human cardiovascular health, reduce stress, decrease loneliness and depression.”

Whether those interactions were passive or active, the article states that benefits of lower anxiety levels were shown, thereby decreasing symptoms of stress.

Isn’t that amazing? As an omniscient God, He knows the benefits of animals even if we don’t recognize it ourselves!

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

As the God of all comfort, He knows exactly the best way to soothe our heart, settle our minds, and calm our spirits. He knows what caused our worry and what’s going on in our world. He might whisper a Scripture verse over our hearts, or send someone to encourage us.

And sometimes? Sometimes, He may send a cat.

~ Southern Dreamer

Resources:

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Leaving the Noise

Sometimes I find myself in this “all or nothing” mentality. If I can’t do it all at once, then it doesn’t count. If I can’t finish it, then should I even start it?

This can often transition to my perfectionism heaping mounds of rules and extra responsibility onto my faith-filled life and relationship with God. As someone who loves structure and to follow the rules, the concept of freedom and grace is a difficult one to understand, and oftentimes leaves me subconsciously making up rules for myself – sometimes I don’t even realize it until after the fact!

One of these self-imposed “rules” that I’ve recently realized I do to myself, is that my perfectionism whispers, the only way you can spend time with God is if you are by yourself. Being still. And quiet.

See the source imageWhich, for anyone, who like me tends to be anxious, is the worst idea because quietness = my brain overthinking and coming up with a million things to worry about.

But perfectionism is very tricky that way, because it sounds close to the truth, right? We all know that verse that says, “Be still and know that I am God,” – Psalm 46:10.

So here comes perfectionism and legalism using Scripture, but also twisting it, and totally not accounting for God’s grace. In the Complete Word Study Dictionary by Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, they explain that in Hebrew, these are some of the meanings behind, “be still”:

“to relax, to cease, to let go. The term was also employed to signify the act of ceasing from something, of letting go.”

And Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary by John H. Walton explains this even further.

“The force of this command is probably directed to the worshipping community, which is encouraged to rest in God’s power to save them from warfare (cf. Ps. 37:7).” 

I think it’s really interesting that two of the explanations and meanings for this verse are to relax and to rest in God’s power – to trust that He is going to save us from our enemies. How cool is that? Before researching this, I had never even heard of this verse described in that kind of context, and yet, from reputable commentaries and concordances, who solely research the Scriptures, it is right there!

Other verses that support this are, i will find you in a burning sky

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” ~ Psalm 37:7

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm,” ~ Mark 4:39

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still,” ~ Exodus 14:14

So, what’s the verdict? We’ve gone through the verse, studied what it’s biblical meaning is, and found supporting verses for it. From all of this, the only outcome that I can see is that perfectionism and legalism were wrong.

God is not saying that we have to be completely silent and just sit in quietness all the time – especially for those of us who struggle with overthinking and anxiety (“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” ~ Psalm 86:15).

All He is saying is that He wants us to come before Him, to be still – to rest, to relax, to trust in who He is. And to know that He is God – to remind ourselves of who He is and what He has done.

If you're feeling alone and searching to fill an empty void in your heart, there is a love out there like no other waiting for you to invite it in!And y’all, there is so much flexibility and freedom in that! Under these guidelines of love and grace, we can spend time with Him at a noisy coffee shop, outside in nature, with a friend, at a Bible study, even in the car driving to work or school!

We do not have to feel like there is only one way to spend time with Him (speaking to myself here too! 😉 ). There’s worship, journaling, singing, praising, reading His Word, and just plain ‘ole talking to Him!

Whatever you choose, whether it is in the noise or solitude, remember to trust in God’s grace and His love for you!

~ Southern Dreamer