“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word.” Psalm 119:67
We had a house cat when we lived in Minnesota named Sugar, and one day Sugar wanted to go outside. The problem was that it was freezing cold and we were in the middle of a snow storm. She put up her paws against the glass patio door in our dining room and meowed at the top of her lungs. I explained to her that she didn’t really want to go outside; she wouldn’t like it. But she wasn’t listening and was driving me crazy with her persistent meowing.
There were so many things she could enjoy if she would just get away from that door. She could watch TV with the kids who were home from school. She could sit on Beth’s lap and allow Beth to gently pet her for hours. She could go down in the basement and eat some more or go up to the bedroom and sleep on Beth’s bed. She had options, but she wasn’t interested in any of them. She wanted to go outside.
Finally I said, “Alright, you asked for this.” I opened the door and she shot out. I then closed the door and after about five seconds she wanted back in. Now she was pawing the other side of the glass door and meowing at the top of her lungs to get back in.
I want to assure you that it was always my plan to let her back in – she was a house cat after all and belonged in the house with us. But she wasn’t coming back in that easily. Before a new beginning was offered, I wanted her to get a taste of life out in the winter storm. If she wasn’t fully convinced, I reasoned, once I let her back in she would quickly forget about how cold and windy it was and think she wanted to go out there again.
When she finally came back in she had obviously learned her lesson because there were no more episodes of her wanting to go where she wasn’t allowed.
Sugar’s story is often our story with God. We get bored doing the right thing all the time and think we want to investigate the “dark side,” or what the Bible calls sin. Instead of enjoying all of God’s legitimate blessings we crave something that is off limits and become convinced that we will be happier if we have it. God then becomes “mean” in our eyes because He won’t let us have what we want. We pout. We whine. And then finally He allows an opportunity for us to have what we want.
If we won’t listen to His word, He hopes we’ll listen to our lives. Life doesn’t work when we disobey God. Even when we disobey and stray far from Him, He waits for our return, “longing to show us mercy.” (Isaiah 30:18)