When I got ready to move into my first apartment by myself, I decided I needed a pet for a companion. I went to the animal shelter one day in early May, convinced there would be an abundance of kittens to choose from. There were about 5; all snuggled together in a single cage. The mother had abandoned them in the wild, leaving them to die. Someone had found them and dropped them at the shelter. The most spectacular of the kittens was fluffy and white with darker ears. There was a couple solid gray kittens and a red tabby. Huddled off to the corner was the runt: dark with patches of tabby, grey, and red. She had wiry looking fur and a pitiful face. Basically the poster cat for an ASPCA commercial.
I had barely thought about the kittens before the shelter worker told me they were too young to adopt and began ushering me on. As I moved away from the cage the runt came running to the door, then continued scaling the bars; it was as though she were trying to follow me. The poor thing wasn't strong enough to grip the bars, let alone scale the cage. Within seconds, I heard a great splash. She had to be removed from the cage and dried off to prevent pneumonia, so I asked if I could hold her while the employee went for a towel. He handed the wet kitten to me without argument. Once in my hands, the kitten dug into my shirt and wouldn't let go. After arguing with the shelter for a bit, they finally agreed to let me keep her.
At home, the ugly kitten I'd just adopted began to wheeze. Curled up next to me, she lay so still, I thought she was dead. I had only had her for a few days before I had to rush her to the vet and acquired the priciest vet bill I'd ever seen before (and this is coming from a girl who grew up on a farm with horses and cows). She was diagnosed with so many things, I couldn't keep track, and each of them required medicine. I'm not sure if she was too weak to resist, or if she understood the medicine would help her, but each morning and evening she let me squirt doses of medicine into her mouth then promptly made a "yuck" face.
I could have taken the employee's no as a final answer. I probably could have had her put to sleep for cheaper than what it cost to nurse her back to health. But when I saw her motionless on the couch beside me, helpless and suffering, I was overcome with the desire to save her. I've had this cat for 7 years now. She grew up to be a beautiful cat with a soft, full mane. She meets me at the door every afternoon when I get home and follows me around the house all evening. She curls up in the bed and watches TV with me. Aside from her tantrums in the morning when she can't wait for me to start the day, she's the perfect campion...
When I look back, I imagine this parallels our relationship with Christ. We are like the animals in the shelter: caged, sick, weak, and looking for a better life. Some of us are too proud or too afraid to approach the Master when He enters. We stay in our cages or hide our ugliness behind others. However, some of us are bold enough to run toward Him uninhibited. We may not be strong enough to break our cage, but when we fall into the water (like a Baptism) He comes back to clean us up. When He scoops us out of that water, we cling to Him as though our lives depend upon it (they do) and declare that wherever He's going, we want to go to! Although He takes us home, our bodies are riddled with the diseases of sin; we are on our deathbed. Luckily, He looks upon us believing that we are worth every effort, no matter the price. The medicine He gives us for our sickness is bitter and disgusting; sometimes it's hard to swallow. Yet, we grow stronger with each dose. We begin to follow Him from corner to corner of His house, waiting by the door for His return.
Unless others adopted those kittens within the next 24 hours and were also willing to shell out the money for vet bills, it's almost certain my cat's brothers and sisters died within a few weeks (they would have had many of the same sicknesses she had). Even though the other kittens in the cage with mine were more attractive, that didn't save them. What saved my cat was her fearlessness to go after what she wanted and courage to stand out. We must be willing to seek out our Master at any cost and cling to Him with all our might. We must allow Him to heal us no matter the process. And finally, we must show our gratitude for His love and sacrifice, because ultimately, He could have left us to die.