It's a chilly start to this Monday morning in late October. The sun is shining but it is drizzling outside, not an unheard of occurrence in northern Michigan. After letting the cat in I settle down on the stone hearth by the wood stove to warm myself for a moment. The cat saunters over and climbs up to snuggle with her best friend, a 90 pound Pit Bull. As I watch her begin the daunting task of cleaning him, something she does frequently, I begin to realize the importance of what I am witnessing... the image that God is allowing to be played out before me. A lesson in animal behavior...
It's not just any friend that will clean the crud out of your ears... that will do whatever it takes to help you be your best no matter how large and overwhelming the task looks. No matter how inadequate they may appear to be to complete the task. My cats tongue, in comparison to my dogs massive body, is pitifully small and inadequate for the job, yet she doesn't hesitate and she knows the most critical place to start.
It's not with his paws, no, he can clean those himself. She wisely chooses his ears. She spends a long time at this, washing away the dirt and debris of the past. Removing the muck and filth that doesn't belong. She works at it until he shines. I see him settle in and exhale a long, heavy breath. He begins to make the silly little whimpering sound he makes when he is happy and content, but the cat keeps on, knowing that this is not a quick fix, that there is still much more to be removed.
I think back over the years of my life. Did I have had friends that were willing to clean the crud from my ears and replace it with the truth until I shined? I can only think of a couple that even saw it needed doing and then they just removed a spec or two. I don't blame them, it's a daunting task, one that seems overwhelming and I'm sure they felt inadequate to do it. My cat is not without dirt on herself as she cleans my dog but she doesn't let that stop her. She doesn't think she is inadequate to help him because of her own dirt.
I also wonder how I am doing at being the cat? Am I willing to do what it takes to help my friends shine? Am I willing to go the distance and be in it for the long haul? To do the hard work of cleaning out the crud, washing away layers of dirt that have accumulated and replace it with the truth? It takes hard work and effort, an investment of time and energy. Nothing cleaned stays clean. Have I been willing to start over from the beginning?
Most importantly, how am I doing at being the dog? Do I settle in and breathe out a long, heavy exhale or do I snap and snarl? Am I willing to humble myself to the process of their cleaning? Do I consider it a privilege and an act of love or do I simply endure the cleaning for a bit and then trot off only to roll in the grime again?
Lord let me learn from the animals, your creation, given for our benefit.
But now ask the beasts and let them teach you: And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Job 12:7
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
This story was written as part of a 31 day writing challenge. To read more of my stories in the challenge, click on this link. Thanks!