So when it comes time to take this sort of cat to the vet for its shots and check-ups, the process is a real adventure. I remember once, when we put the cat in a box we had carefully aerated, drove 20 miles to the vet, opened the box and there was no cat. We drove back home and found her sitting on the steps, licking her paws, and looking at us with a look of disdain. “Where have you been?” she seemed to be saying with a smirk. We still don’t know how she got out. Her name was Jezebel. Maybe that explains it.
When we got Jasper we invested in a carrier. The first time I used it, I discovered that this was still not going to be easy. I sat on the porch and called him. He inched his way forward and I just held out my hand until he finally relaxed and let me pet him. After a minute or so, I picked him up and tried to put him in the crate. Immediately, all four sets of claws sprang out and grasped the edges of the opening. It looked like a cartoon as I tried pushing him in while he hung on to the doorframe for dear life. No way was this cat going in there willingly.
Then I got smart, I thought, and put some food in the carrier. Jasper smelled it immediately, and stuck his head inside. I waited patiently as more and more of him disappeared into the box, then quickly shut the door; but somehow in that tiny space, he managed to turn around and slip out before I could get the clasp fastened.
By then, he was getting suspicious. He was too leery to even come near me, so I waited a bit. About a half hour later I grabbed a towel and laid it on the porch floor next to me. By then, he was feeling generous again and sauntered up to me for a scratch. After a few minutes, he lay next to me on the towel. With a quick motion, I flipped the towel over his whole body and dumped him unceremoniously into the upended carrier, The little bit of time it took for him to get his claws out of the towel gave me enough time to shut the door without him escaping. Finally we went to the vet.
Wouldn’t you know it, when we got to the vet, he wouldn’t come out of the carrier? The vet had to dump him out. And when she was finished with him and let him go, he scrambled back in as fast as he could. Little stinker.
In spite of his unwillingness to go to the vet, it kept him healthy. The shots still worked, even though he really didn’t want them. It doesn’t work that way with righteousness. You can do things that look like righteousness all day long, but if you are doing them from a bad heart, they won’t do a thing for your soul.
We seem to have a mistaken idea about the Old Law, that all they had to do were “right things,” and that their hearts did not matter. Yet over and over you find instances where the heart most certainly did matter. Take from among you an offering unto Jehovah; whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, Ex 35:5. That is just one example among many.
Doesn’t it mean more to you that Lord offered himself for us willingly? No one takes [my life] away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. John 10:18. How much would it mean in terms of love if he had done it because he was forced to?
That is how God looks at us too. How much more does it mean to you when your child brings you a wildflower he picked in the field “just because” than when he sends that expensive arrangement on Mother’s Day, a day when the world practically forces it on him? A buttercup on a Tuesday is far superior to a dozen roses the second Sunday in May.
God will not force us to obey him, much less love him. He has never accepted the letter of the law without the heart.
And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever, 1 Chron 28:9.