I had to take my two cats to the vet today. So, I put them in their crates to keep them safe as I drove them to the vet’s office about 15 miles from my home. Now, anyone who knows anything about cats knows that cats hate to be shut up in a crate and ride in a car, anywhere! So, as I’m driving them to the vet, I’m tickled by their howling and fussing to be let out of the crates. I remind them that the crate ride is the purrfect (pun intended) opportunity to catch a cat nap. But, they insisted on howling the whole trip. Once we were safely in the vet’s office, I let them out of their crates, only to have them crawl right back in and lay down.
This situation reminds me of how God has given us the safety of relationship guidelines for our own protection and for those we encounter as we go down the road. When we don’t want to go along for the ride, we howl and fuss, acting just like a caged cat. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. It reminds me of the Scripture “A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.” Proverbs 19:3 (NIV)
While I have the option of letting them loose as I drive, that’s not very safe for anyone! I’d probably end up in a terrible accident when one of them decides my lap is the place to be. So, with the desire for all of us to arrive at our destination safely, I cling to the wisdom of having a restraint for my cats, even though they hate it – for the moment. I’m sure if I put the crate in my house with the door open, they’d crawl in it often, just like at the vets office.
Let’s look at the guidance He’s given us in His Word with a new perspective. He really does love us and wants to keep us safe until we reach our final destination, eternity with Him. He wants most of all for us to have healthy, loving relationships with Him and each other. His Word is full of relationship wisdom that could help us safely and lovingly interact. Just as it didn’t kill the cats to be restrained by the crate, neither will we die if we live our lives with some restraint. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord promises to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NIV)
This Thanksgiving, as we gather with our family and friends, let’s remember that restraint is important when interacting with those who get on our last nerve. Let’s focus on anything of any value that person possesses and speak words of encouragement to them. We only see them once or twice each year, so several hours of restraint won’t kill us. Blessing them out of the abundance of Christ’s love won’t kill us either. As we choose to bless and encourage them, we will not only feel better about them, we’ll feel better about ourselves.