It takes about 22 hours to travel from Wisconsin to Florida – unless you’re a cat. In that case, the 1,484-mile journey takes more like two months. At least that’s how long it took Nadia to get from her snowy home in Wisconsin to sunny Florida. The Naples Daily News reports that Cheri Stocker adopted the cat nine months ago in Wisconsin. On Christmas Eve, the cat escaped.
A woman in Naples, Florida found the kitty last week. Workers at an animal shelter found the cat’s microchip and, through a pet relocation service, got ahold of Stocker’s sister, who had been listed as an emergency contact. Now, the cat has been returned to her owner.
This is a parable on life. Let me count the ways.
1. We all have lost our way. The Bible says, “All we like cats have gone astray” (2 Barnicles 7:14). Ok, I made that up. But people are like cats. We are independent thinkers who like to do life our own way. That’s why, out of the top 100 businessmen in America, not one owns a cat. You don’t “own” a cat. Jay Leno said he came home one day and “found my cat ignoring the neighbor.” He told his cat, “Hey, I’m your owner. You’re supposed to ignore me!” Most of us have gotten really good at ignoring our Owner.
2. We follow who feeds us. Put food down for a stray cat and he is no longer a stray. He’s now yours. They follow their stomachs. Where they find food, shade, and comfort, they go. We are like that. We bow to the god of pleasure. Whatever feeds us for the moment becomes our friend.
3. Rarely is the return permanent. I’m sure Nadia was happy to be back home. And she will stay at home – until the urge hits her again. We say we will never sin again, but we do. We say we are done with our cheatin’ ways right up until the moment we cheat again. The Bible says we are like the dog who returns to his vomit (Proverbs 26:11). Only a radical transformation and all-out commitment to our God will keep us from straying again.
4. Our owner celebrates our return. I know. I’ve been there. When Beth and I came home from a wonderful vacation several years ago, we were greeted with the news that the people watching our cat left a door open, and the cat escaped. We put up flyers, went door-to-door, and recruited a gang to help us in our search. After a nine-day journey to who knows where, Tabitha was found. She was weak, tired, and dirty. But she was still our cat. When we spotted her, Beth lit up with a joy I haven’t seen since the last time I left for a week’s business trip. Our cat was lost, but now was found. We celebrated her return.
You and I were weak, tired, and dirty. But mostly, we were just lost. Never one to quit searching, our God found us, took us back home, and then he cleaned us up. We don’t know what Nadia was up to for those 22 months or how she managed to stray so far from home. And to the owner, it doesn’t really matter anyway. All that matters is that she is home now. It matters not how far we stray or how much dirt we collect in the process. The important thing – the only thing – is that we come home.