This originally appeared as a devo on whillschurch.org.
A couple of weeks ago we did a service dealing with the topic of “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” I wrote a devo on it to introduce it. We did the service. And as common with this kind of topic – I felt like later – “Man…I wish I’d said this. Or this.”
I heard a message many years ago that radically changed my perspective on the Scriptures and theology. The question was simply this – do you read the scriptures like a dog or a cat?
What?? Say that again?
Do you read the Bible through the lenses of a dog or a cat?
A dog has an owner, a cat has a staff. A dog thinks – “you feed me, you shelter me, you take care of me, you love me – YOU must be God!” A cat thinks – “you feed me, you shelter me, you take care of me, you love me – I must be God!”
It’s funny because it’s true. What isn’t funny is when a cat becomes a theologian. Now all the scriptures have “me” as the point. “I am the reason for everything, I am so important, I must read the scriptures to find ME and MY PART in them. God so loved ME.” A cat prayer is focused on my needs and my wants and my experiences. And when those experiences don’t meet my expectations – I will complain and be bitter about it.
Dogs have a completely different experience of the same set of events. If I don’t come home for a long time – the cat will ignore me and blame me for not being around when they needed me. They will “punish” me by ignoring me or spraying my stuff. A dog? They will run to the door and knock me down with attention. A dog will lick my face and wag it’s tail until I finally have to say – “OKAY!!! Let’s go play!” A cat looks for opportunities to manipulate its “owner” into doing something for himself. A dog looks for opportunities to play and serve his master. A cat delights in what the owner can do for them. A dog delights in the Master himself.
Are you getting the point? Apply that to this – “God has a wonderful plan.” I think it’s “cat” of us to add “for MY life.” I don’t think God rerouted Israel, put the Hebrews in 400 years of slavery just for Moses. I don’t think He purposely allowed Stephen to be killed with Saul looking just so that Saul would have a cool testimony later in life.
It’s not that God doesn’t love us – it’s just that sometimes I think we think more highly of ourselves than is warranted. I think we have a tendency to make the story about us, instead of about God. And I think this self-absorbness leaks into how we understand the scriptures and apply them to our lives.
God does have a wonderful plan. Let’s just stop there and let that stand by itself. I realize that is a bit uncomfortable for some of us. It leaves some mystery out there – as in – is this plan in stone? Can I mess this plan up? My purpose is not to try to answer those questions – at least today.
At the very least, God has a plan and has invited (and is continually inviting) us to BE in it WITH Him. Not to be the center of the story – but to have a redeemed role as He redeems the world to Himself. He gifts us, loves us, takes care of us but not because of who we are but because that is who He is. That shouldn’t diminish our role in any way…unless you are cat. Because cats always have to be the center of attention.
Let me see if I can illustrate this with one of my favorite dogs – Boomer. Boomer works for the Topeka Fire Department. He is an incredible yellow lab with a sniffer that can detect any combustible liquid. He solves fires. When Boomer gets on a fire scene, he can tell where the fire started just by smell. He helps the investigators figure out if there is arson or an accident.
He’s important, he’s got a role to play, he helps the TFD and the city of Topeka. BUT he’s not the center of the universe. He’s important to his owner. His owner loves him, feeds him, trains him, and cares for him everyday. But not once does Boomer think “I must be God.” He loves the relationship with his owner – just because he loves his master. I don’t think he’d have any other way. He is one happy dog because of this.
I think there is a lot to learn from this. Don’t you?