Tuesday, June 7, 2011

And now a few words from Jean-Luc...

One of the things that fascinates me about our relationships with animals is the fact that we have worked out ways to communicate with them, and to understand what they are communicating to us.

From the pet rats that used to jump up onto the cage bars when they saw me coming, ("Pick me up! Pick ME UP!") to the young jersey bull that spent one summer tethered in the meadow by the house and who used to chase me out of the meadow after every visit ("Don't go! My ears are still ITCHY!!!"), understanding our animals has always seemed to be a fairly natural process.

Recently we had the opportunity to rescue a grey kitten, Jean-Luc. I blogged about Saving Jean-Luc in The Chicken Diaries. It has been a couple of weeks now, and I estimate that Jean-Luc is about 8 - 10 weeks old. He is a bright, curious, playful kitten. The only after-effects of having been lost for a week seem to be the tendency to be a bit desperate for people food when he sees that we are eating, and an endearing attachment to me, the one who pulled him from lostness with a handful of kitty kibble.

I have since moved into an apartment and Jean-Luc came with me. He could easily have been called Shadow, as he is my constant companion in the apartment. No matter where I am, he is. At night, when I get up to go to the bathroom, he follows. When I return to bed, he snuggles back up onto my pillow and goes back to sleep. If I leave a room without him noticing, it won't be long before he is wandering the apartment calling for me. I understand his concern. He has been abandoned. It is not easy to learn to trust again.

Today, I was on the couch reading, and Jean-Luc came up to where I was sitting and crawled into my lap. I pushed him aside, as he was blocking my book. He was in a affectionate mood, and walked up to my chest, rubbing his cheeks on my face and purring. He walked back and forth under my chin, pressing his warm, soft body against my throat and face. There are few sounds as inviting to me as the purring of a contented cat, and as he rubbed his cheek on mine I heard him, loudly and clearly, as if he was issuing the invitation in black and white.

"Enjoy me." It was very simple. Two words. "Enjoy me". It was not enough to sit on my lap and be absently petted while I remained lost in my book. Yes, he wanted to be touched and petted, but he wanted more. He wanted me to enjoy him, to feel his soft, thick fur on my face, to hear this deep, rumbling pleasure, to smell the faint perfume of his coat, to receive his affection and to enjoy him.

Needless-to-say, I put the book down and gave myself to this lovely experience with this lovely creature. In a few moments he was wrapped around the back of my neck asleep and I could continue with the book, but for a brief time, we connected. We had a moment. And it was enjoyable.

It made me think of one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

"They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." Psalm 18:18-19

I remember the feeling I had when I first read this and realized that God delighted in me. Imagine that. I know that He walks with me daily and has all kinds of emotions about the things I do and the way I live my life. It is a new thing, though, to think that sometimes when I reach out to Him, when I worship Him and just want to be with Him, He enjoys me. I ask Him to be pleased with me, to protect me and take care of me, but do I ever ask Him to enjoy me? Do I even need to ask? I'm thinking that I may not need to. He is never too distracted to notice me, and His delight in His children is profound.

I knew Jean-Luc was out in the cold, alone and hungry, before I ever met him. I looked and looked for him. I rescued him because in his smallness, in his weakness and vulnerability, my heart was moved and it was my joy to save him.

My God sees me in the same way. His heart is moved by my vulnerability. There have been many times in the past when my confession of weakness has simply provided ammunition to those who needed to justify their own terrible behavior. Vulnerabilities were things to be laughed at, to be spread about in gossip, to be used as proof of my unreliability and justification for abuse.

This is not the heart of God. With God, I can come before Him in all my smallness and weakness and if I am seeking Him with love, I can confidently invite Him to enjoy me. Just as Jean-Luc consistently gives himself to me, a gift of love and sweetness, so do I have a self to give to God. In fact, my self is pretty much all I have to give to God. It is all He asks for. It is what pleases Him most. It is what He loves.

Enjoy me. Two simple words, but they express a trust and love that is so profound, it can change the way we look at our world, our people and our God. God saves us for one very simple reason. He delights in us. If that doesn't inspire us to joy and devotion, what will?

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