Through some strange circumstances, we ended up with a trip scheduled to Costa Rica with less than three weeks to plan. Many things happened during that preparation time that seemed targeted at making us fear going. The volcano we would be staying 1.6 miles from for two days was having an immense amount of sudden activity. There was a murder of an older couple not far from where we would spend a day. There was concern of earthquakes off the coast of the South Pacific jungle where we would be for three days. Those and other details aren't important other than the fact that we chose Faith instead of Fear. The trip was an incredible one, with our witness shared with many, and even our encounter with a fer de lance snake (the snake accredited with the most human kills) didn't deter the plans that God had for this trip.
However, when we returned "our cat" was no where to be found. She is a wild kitty that has quite a story of her own. I have been an animal lover since I was a very small child with a special attraction to cats. The only problem is that on a scale of 1 to 10, my cat allergy rates off the top of the scale. Although we've always had stray cats and up to 3 at a time, my sweet husband told me in 1996 that after the last one died, that would be it. He wasn't going to see me suffer any longer with cat dander all over the house. In April 1997, Princess, my favorite cat died at the age of 20. We had one cat left who was only 6 years old, so I didn't have to worry yet, but I really missed my Princess.
One week after her death, I was on the phone and left it drop to the floor when I looked out the window and saw what I thought to be Princess. It was a female cat that looked and acted like her - our wild kitty. It was a joy to see her and I felt like she was a gift from God to me. A kitty that could be "mine" but not really since she was a feral cat.
In June 1998, our last kitty died suddenly. That was so difficult since I knew it was the last cat I would have until I got to my home in Heaven.
The wild black kitty continued to come around since we always had some kind of food out for the wildlife in our woods. Now she was all I had and after we buried our last cat, I really worked at being able to pet her, which finally occurred after two years of feeding her. So, this is how Miss Kitty Girl came to be "our cat." During 1999 she had been spending most of the day on our back porch with a soft bed of her own and a recently added long box to crawl into for winter nights with a blanket at the back for warmth.
Although we trapped her to have her spayed in March 1999, she'd had no interest in human touch until the summer of 1999. She would allow me to rub on her and about a month before the trip, I could even pick her up for about 1/2 a minute before she'd panic to get down. She seemed to be well on her way to accepting me as a special part of her life.
Return from Costa Rica
Getting in at midnight on November 21, we didn't see Kitty Girl anywhere. We had taken a 12-day trip in September and she was there just a little bit after we returned, so we expected to see her in the morning, but didn't. The entire week went by - hour by hour - looking for Kitty Girl. The joy of the trip was greatly dimmed by these circumstances.
I know daily that it is dangerous in the woods. There's no traffic to worry about, just the natural flow of nature to hunt or be hunted. Having spent time in Costa Rica in a true jungle setting, this understanding was very real to me. I've always believed in house pets, but I don't believe in zoos and wild animals being kept as pets, so I conceded that what was best for her was what life was to her and that was to be wild until she wanted something else. I have truly learned the definition of a feral cat.
I had no problem allowing God to take her from us for His best in our lives. I could say with rejoicing, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!" However, in my heart, I knew it just wasn't God's way. I would feel so much guilt if she got killed because we weren't here for her.
So, later in the week I mustered up all the Faith I could find inside me and prayed. I wasn't going to give up and succumb to my worst fears. This was just a continuation of the fear the devil tried to throw in before the trip.
I felt pretty good for the balance of that day, but was back in tears by the next. I spent more time looking at the porch door where she would sit than anything else I did each day. I called out to the woods throughout the day and throughout the nights. I battled guilt and condemnation with grief-filled tears. Being an "empty-nester" since our only son moved 815 miles away in January, made Kitty Girl something to care for. She had become a more important part of my life than I had realized.
By Saturday night I felt that there wasn't much hope left since there would be no reason she wouldn't return for food and the warmth and safety of the box with the weather at freezing during the night.
I had a decision to make!
I was torn between desiring to go to church to praise and worship my Lord for who He was and for the love He gave that would cover all the grief I had in this human body - or - to stay home and cry my heart out, with my pride not wanting to possibly break down and cry uncontrollably at church as I'd been doing at home.
My decision was to go. I needed the Spirit flowing around me and didn't want to let the devil have a winning stroke. I was soon to be reminded that the devil's power is nothing when you put it up against the Power of God.
I dressed early on Sunday so there wouldn't be any hesitation and I thought about our prayers before we left for the trip. We had prayed over the house, over our land, and over our kitty. We prayed during the trip for protection for all. I began to think of the promises in Psalm 91 that we had always stood on and believed in and remembered those prayers prayed in Faith had always been fulfilled. I just didn't have a peace in my heart to give up hope, but my mind said there wasn't a chance. I had checked with the neighbors and nobody had seen her. I had done everything I could humanly do. My mind wouldn't allow me any hope. But,
Hope comes from the heart!
I knew I would be fine during church, but was confused as to why. The praise and worship time was special and it reaffirmed that whatever went on in life, I could make it through to the other side because I had the hand of the Almighty God in mine.
Our Pastor was home sick that day, so our Youth Pastor spoke. I began to take notes as usual, and then I realized that this was a message to me ... and as I listened to it, God unveiled His Words to me through Pastor Jimmerson's sermon.
The Scripture reference began with Mark 5:22 and the story of Jairus asking Jesus to come heal his daughter. On the way a woman with an "issue of blood" stopped Him and He spent time healing her, and then somebody came to tell Jairus that his daughter had already died. Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid, JUST BELIEVE!" I had asked Jesus to help the kitty, to heal her if she was injured, to bring her home, but I kept battling fear, and now I was hearing, "JUST BELIEVE!"
Pastor said that the devil will plant seeds of doubt and how you view your situation is how it will turn out. The title of the sermon was called, "Your Outlook Determines your Outcome."
When they got to the daughter everybody laughed when Jesus said she wasn't dead, but only asleep. Pastor mentioned that even death has to go at the Word of Jesus.
Every time fear would try to fill my mind, I would hear from within, "She's not dead, but only sleeping." I even thought at one point, "yeah, sleeping in heaven." I would keep my head filled with His Word and the message that He gave me through the sermon. The Bible says that the Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword (and a sermon preached right before we took the trip included a visual aid of a two-edged sword, so I could picture it cutting the doubt and fear into pieces).
The girl was 12 years old. I thought: My kitty is a girl and if you take 3 cat years times 4, you get 12 human years of age.
I reminded myself of Pastor's words that spoke directly to my heart, "Jesus is on the way, He's just stopped along the way." And I remembered Jesus' words, "Don't be afraid, just believe" and "she is not dead, but sleeps."
I kept reminding myself of all the real problems in the world. The famines, fathers dying in plane crashes and single moms who struggle with daily life, children being killed by gunfire and horrified by wars. How could I even shed a tear over something as trivial as a cat being gone?
I came to realize that even that was condemnation from the devil, although it sounds pretty spiritual when you rehearse it in your mind.
The reason it wasn't trivial is because it was my pain and my Daddy in Heaven cares about me just as we are to care about our own children with their trivial hurts. Yes, there are greater sorrows all around us, but even so, our own little sorrows are important to our Lord.
He keeps every tear drop we shed in a bottle.
Isn't that a picture of how much He cares? I have known much greater sorrows in life and shall know many more, as life promises trials and tribulations, but whatever it is that hurts our heart concerns our Heavenly Father just because He loves us that much.
Humanly I knew I couldn't keep fear out and doubt from overwhelming me and grief of the loss from destroying me. But I had this extremely strange-to-human kind of peace that was radically opposite from what I had experienced all week long grieving for her. Pastor said, "God works from the inside out. The devil works from the outside in." I kept His Word inside me so that it could work from the inside out and I could be free of the fear that would try to attack from the outside in.
There's no record of Jairus tugging at Jesus to go when the lady tugged on His garments. She'd had the problem for 12 years, couldn't she wait a little longer?
Jairus had stated when he came to Jesus, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." Jairus KNEW that his daughter would live.
From the time I returned home from church I was at peace knowing that my Kitty Girl was okay. Jesus would get to her. At moments it seemed so impossible that I knew this, that I would stir myself up to a bit of reality. I'd think to myself that it was so long and maybe the Father meant that she would live in Heaven.
I could tell the difference between the devil feeding me fear and doubt and my mind trying to make me think "sensibly." My thinking was still surrounded with peace and knowing. Fear and doubt would cause me to rise up with His Word and jab it to death. That sword at church was huge and certainly too heavy for me to use effectively. God's Word has so much in it that sometimes we get confused about which Scripture is "right." Just let God show you "your Word" and stand on it and jab away at the devil's promptings.
You don't need to be a skilled warrior to win the battle. You just need to keep jabbing away. Determination and persistence will get the job done while you remember all the time that Jesus is on the way!
Pastor said that "criticism is always a part of the supernatural" and I guess I was criticizing myself for being so seemingly senseless. I consider myself a pretty down-to-earth kind of person and live pretty close to the reality realm of life. However, there comes a time when your mind and human thought has nothing to do with life. When your heart KNOWS that God says something is going to happen, you just have to KNOW that it will.
It's not something that you can do on your own. Maybe it comes down to Faith or Fear. Exact opposites. We all know how much Fear can accomplish in us. We hear a tap on the window while we're alone in the dark and in 10 seconds we can almost kill ourselves from fright before realizing that a pine cone hit the window on its way to the ground.
I've been working at building Faith and fighting Fear for many years and I guess it's like a muscle. The more you exercise it the stronger it will be. It's just a matter of choice and like all exercise, it's not easy to be consistent. But then what comes easy in life is generally not of much value.
Choose faith and not fear!
From the time I got home after church, I was back to the duties at hand. If I passed the door or window I would look, but it didn't control me. I just knew that she'd be back. I pictured her arriving and the knowing allowed me to continue on.
I was working at my desk in another room when my husband called me to the living room to see Kitty Girl at the door. I can't describe the feelings of that moment. I mentally ran up to my Heavenly Daddy and jumped into His lap to say, "Thank You." As I sat there on the floor petting her and feeling stunned, I had thoughts of how much that "exercise" of my Faith muscle had actually reaped. God will use this to make my prayer and intercession more powerful.
I've heard a phrase for many years: "What you can believe, you can achieve." Doesn't it all comes down to that! God's power in us can achieve great and mighty things if we just believe in His power. His power is always available. We just don't flip the switch. Can we really can have all of the "desires of our heart" if we just believe in Him?
Maybe my sharing this piece of my life will make a change in your life that will allow you to see God in a different way. We have a lot of choices to make every day.
Choose FAITH and not fear!
"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:22
"Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Donna L. Watkins lives in Central Virginia with her wonderful husband enjoying birds, wildlife, gardening, forests, nature travel and her cat, Squeek. More articles can be found at TheHerbsPlace.com and a free subscription to her mailing, A Healing Moment. http://www.theherbsplace.com/ahm.html