Jesus and my cat, Amber.
I know how weird that phrase looks. But bear with me for a moment as I try to make a connection.
My wife, Debbie, and I just returned from having our last cat, Amber, put to sleep. We adopted Amber 15 years ago from a pet rescue after she had been found abandoned outside in a box. She has been the princess of our home and has regally reigned, even in the season when there were two other male cats in the house. For the last year it has been just her and she basked in the undivided attention she got from the two of us. I will miss many things about her; but most of all the way she cuddled up between Debbie and me for those wonderful Sunday afternoon naps. Her deep purr could lull me into blissful rest.
But this morning she made one last trip to the vet. Her health had started to fail and seemed to cascade in the last week. She was a little disoriented, likely due to organ degeneration and probably some pain, and we simply loved her too much to sustain her for our benefit. She seemed ready to be done and was very peaceful as she slipped into death.
And I cried and cried. My heart hurts so much, so I will probably cry some more. However, in the midst of the tears, two thoughts crossed my mind. First thought: in her entire life Amber had done nothing wrong, had committed no sins, did not warrant death. But she experienced disease, organ failure, pain and death because of sin in the world. Amber would have lived forever in the Garden of Eden. But when sin and death entered the world, it impacted every living creature (and, in fact, the creation itself).
Second reality: I am deeply grieving – over a cat. Nonetheless, my pain is very real, very big because of how much I loved her. And if I experience this degree of heart pain over a cat, I wonder how I would handle the loss of my wife, one of my children, or my parents?
As I pondered the first of those two things, I had a very emotional connection with Jesus. Like Amber, he had done nothing wrong, had committed no sins, did not warrant death. Yet, he had to submit to death so that he might conquer death and free us from its bondage. Amber had no idea what was happening this morning; she simply entrusted herself to the only parents she had known. Jesus knew exactly what was happening, having chosen to entrust himself to his Father and submit to death.
Then, in the midst of seemingly overwhelming grief and pain – for a cat – the depth of our heavenly Father’s love overtook me. What he must have been feeling as he watched his son, an innocent man, be brutalized by death because of his love for me. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son….”
Thank you, Lord, for showing me more of you, even in the passing of Amber.