Lessons from a Kitty
By Karen Ehman
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Galatians 4:8-9 (NIV)
“Aw, come on Mom and Dad….pleeeeease!” During a summer’s afternoon drive, our kids spied a “free kittens” sign and begged for their first real pet. My husband and I caved and pulled into the farm house. After weeks of pestering, our offspring had won. We would get a kitten and they would get the chance to prove to us that they could handle the responsibility.
Eight-year old Spencer chose a tiger kitten and proudly toted him out of the barn. When he gently placed the somewhat frightened fur ball in the car, the kitten became frantic and dug his claws into Spencer who let out a scream and let go of the cat. It scurried under the driver’s seat, crawled up near the clutch, and somehow managed to squeeze through a small opening and climb into the dashboard where we could not see him.
We were afraid that if we started the car the cat would be history; a victim of the roaring engine. My husband assured us that the kitty was safe from its gripping gears. We waited a while before making the trip home with the stowaway up in the dash. Once home, he still wouldn’t come out. We pulled the car into the garage, opened the driver’s side door and put some milk and food out on the garage floor near the car. Surely the little kitty would get hungry and come out. He did - a full two days later.
We promptly named him Dash and he became a normal, playful kitty. But we noticed something about Dash. Whenever he wanted to escape, he would crawl up under the engine of our van and sleep. When we’d start the engine, he would dash out and run into our woods. Apparently, even though his first few minutes with us had been traumatizing, they had made a lasting impression on him. When he wanted to take a break from life, he went back to what felt familiar, even though it initially had been a horrible experience.
Sometimes we are no smarter than that ridiculous cat. When we feel like throwing in the towel for a while, we revert back to a not-so-nice habit just because it feels familiar - a brownie laden with ice cream and hot fudge eaten in secret, a somewhat steamy show or questionable novel, or perhaps a phone conversation to “let off some steam” while engaging in some gossip. Our hidden habits and besetting sins entice us to participate just a little. They promise to offer us rest and a feeling of familiarity, but in reality they are a dangerous place for us to lodge. Today’s verse, in fact, calls things that enslaved us before we knew God “weak and miserable.” And that is just what they make us - weak and miserable.
Determine today to stop hiding out in old destructive habits. Instead, come out into the light of His glorious grace and learn a new method of coping. Run to Him instead of to the old and familiar. His Word is alive and active. It can help us break bad habits and form new and godly ones.
Dear Lord, forgive me for running to the familiar instead of to You. Break sin’s hold on me as I strive to break old habits for Your glory alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Redemption, a novel by Karen Kingsbury & Gary Smalley
A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman
Recruit a friend to help you resist becoming enslaved by old habits. Call her for prayer when you feel yourself slipping back into wrongful ways.
Write the power verses below on an index card. Keep them near you so you can refer to them. Memorize them as weapons in the war against your flesh.
To what familiar habits to you regularly revert? Write them down. Next come up with one or two alternative actions you could take the next time you are tempted to participate in an old pattern.
1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)
Romans 6:16-18, “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 06 July 2007.