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This morning Jane over at Making it write wrote a beautiful story about a stray orange tabby who adopted them once and introduced himself as Ginger. It reminded me of one of my own blog posts from February last year, Gray Guy. But there was a bit more in my journal about Gray Guy about ten days later. Thought I’d post it here today to add to Jane’s tribute to HER tabby…

“…every happening, great or small,
is a parable whereby God speaks to us;
and the art of life is to get the message.”

I ran across this Malcolm Muggeridge quote years ago, and it rang so true to me I wrote it down. Jesus was a master at taking ordinary things and turning them into teaching tools. Things like bread and wine skins, mustard seeds and coins, fish and flowers. Humans are visual creatures. Perhaps that’s part of the reason He came to earth – so we could see Him.

gray tabbyWe haven’t changed in 2000 years. We’re still visual creatures. And Jesus still speaks to us in parables. I can think of quite a list of things the Lord has used to speak to me. Some of them are gathered in my little metal treasure box. A nail, a pine cone, a sterling silver ballet slipper, pennies… And our big tabby cat, Gray Guy.

Gray Guy is on my mind a lot today. He’s missing. He’s been gone for ten days now. I’ve been sitting here nursing a cup of coffee and a couple cookies while listening to my hubby talk to the animal control people. They haven’t seen him. They gave us another number to call on the off chance the city animal control had picked him up. But in my heart, I’m convinced Gray is gone for good.

cookie-and-coffeeI refilled my cup and grabbed another cookie. I really hate the bitter taste of coffee, but I can drink it if I have something sweet to eat with it or if I add a little sugar. Seems I’m prone to stick something in my mouth when I’m nervous or upset. And I am. I know very soon the certainty of Gray’s fate will sink in and I’ll have to accept the loss of my furry friend.

And Gray was MY furry friend. I was the one he always came to. The one whose lap he chose. The who put the drops in his eyes when he couldn’t see. The one who nearly had heart failure when, unable to see anything, he jumped out of the car at the gas station on the way to the vet’s. The one who has to live with the regret of not having him neutered because I felt we couldn’t afford it. Maybe if I had he wouldn’t have wandered off so much.

And yet, in the midst of that regret is the memory of the wonderful lesson God taught me through Gray’s temporary blindness – that I don’t have to wander in spiritual darkness because I have Jesus, and He’s the light of the world. What a bittersweet memory I have of Gray Guy.

Bittersweet. Like the coffee and the cookie. I don’t like the bitter coffee without the sweet cookie. Seems there’s another parable here, another little tidbit of truth about how life really is.

How many times have I heard the expression “you can’t have a rainbow without any rain?” Can you have a rose without thorns, a flower garden without weeds, flowers without showers? What about a mountain top view without the climb? Recovery if you haven’t been sick? Raise healthy kids without growing pains? Life in Christ without the struggle to learn to be loving and accepting like him?

balance+stonesBittersweet. Life is a balance. Too many sweets can make you sick. But too much bitterness causes despair (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Proverbs 13:12) And so it must be that as in everything else, life needs balance. It’s easy to feel blessed and receptive to God when everything’s going our way. But maybe we need to learn to appreciate and embrace the down side, the bitter side, of life as well. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned along the way.

A couple months ago my daughter Stefanie went to Pioneer Village at the local amusement park on a field trip with her class. She bought me a present that day – a miniature collector’s plate of a gray tabby cat. We had no idea then what was going to happen to Gray. In looking back, it seems the Lord wanted me to have something to remember my Gray Guy by. I put it on the table in the bedroom. I know someday it will find its way into my treasure box with all the other “parables” God’s used in my life. Someday when my heart doesn’t stick in my throat every time I look at it.

Blind Scottish author and preacher George Matheson once prayed this prayer: “I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my ‘thorn’… teach me the value of my ‘thorn.’ Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.”

Even in the pain of his absence, Lord, I thank you for my Gray Guy.

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Picture Credits:
Tabby Cat — cafechoo.com
Coffee & Cookies — www.burnfatstayhealthy.com
Balance — www.pbrcseattle.com

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