Last night, I came home early from my parent’s house; wanting to get a good night’s sleep before work today. I am not one of those people that sacrifices sleep for the sake of flashing lights and loud noises, and I had celebrated Independence Day with my family on the 3rd, which was enough pyromania for me.
Anyway, I was about to go to bed, and as I walked up the stairs to my room, I noticed the stairway smelled a bit more ripe than usual, but I shook it off. Once I got to my room, I realized I left my pillow in my car, so I decided to search my house for a more worthy substitute.
When I stepped into the stairway again, I decided it really smelled like fresh cat dump, so I turned the light on, looked in the corner, and there was a number two. I immediately took my two, clearly not-yet-litter-box-trained kittens, down to the mostly carpetless basement, shutting the door behind me.
I then started the cleanup, and when I was almost finished, I found another number two on the first landing.
That was not how I wanted to end my Independence Day, cleaning up cat poo. And even though it was pretty late by the time I finished cleaning, I still decided to stick with my original plan to write in my gratefulness journal before I went to sleep; reminding myself that praising Jesus right then was more important than a couple more minutes of sleep.
As I wrote down the events of the night, God revealed the lesson He was teaching me through my stupid cats, and He also gave me renewed reasons to be grateful.
I know that God is my Father and Creator. And I also know that He is the Master of the Vineyard, which is this world and every living soul.
Jesus told a story about the owner of a vineyard who left on a long journey, leasing out his land to caretakers (Matthew 21, Luke 20). When it came time for the vineyard owner to receive what was due from the caretakers, they refused to pay. They wanted all the increase for themselves and thought they deserved to own the land without answering to the master of the vineyard.
I am not God and I do not own a vineyard, but I do own a home, and I decided to let my kittens have some freedom while I was away for a day. Obviously, they abused their freedom, and, therefore, lost it… But if I am branch of God (John 15) or a caretaker of His, then I deserve far less freedom and mercy than my little kittens.
I have not pooped on God’s carpet, but, metaphorically, I have; deciding my way was better, and choosing to give myself what I want, rather than render to God what is rightfully His.
God is fully aware of what I have done and what I will do. He knows that giving me freedom comes at a price; that price was His own blood, poured out on my behalf. It doesn’t really make sense that my Creator would give me the choice to either love and obey Him or hate and rebel against Him. If I were God, I would not have given people freedom, but if God did not give us freedom, then there would be no room for faith or love. Faith is not faith if it is forced, and the same goes for love. Thankfully, I am not God, and God is not naïve like me.
Unlike what I do with my kittens, God does not leave us to our own devices, assuming we will do the right thing. He leaves us to our own devices, knowing we will do the wrong thing unless we trust in Him.
The caretakers and branches of this world can choose to either forget what they have learned and make a pooping mess of everything, or trust in Jesus and be pulled out of the muck they have covered themselves with.
I am unworthy of the grace and freedom my Heavenly Father bestows, but praise be to God that unworthiness does not matter. What matters is that Jesus has called me His, placing His worthiness and righteousness upon me, and nothing can change that. Though I will make mistakes, I don’t have to sit in those mistakes and let them defile me for the rest of my life. When I turn away from sin and run to Jesus, He holds me, and I know that He already loved and forgave me before I sinned.
God could have chosen to leave me in the muck, but instead, He chose to step in here with me. He chose to clean up my mess and walk right beside me.
Don’t mistake me. I am not saying that someone who never trusted in Jesus has been forgiven of their sins before they ask for forgiveness. I am saying that once someone repents, seeks forgiveness from God, and commits their life to Jesus, He has forgiven all their sins: past, present, and future.
In John 17, Jesus prayed for the disciples and the sheep not yet part of His fold. He told the Father that He had not lost one of the children God gave to Him, except for Judas Iscariot, and He prayed that His children would continually be sanctified.
When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, inviting Him to abide in us and we in Him, that is not a bond that can be severed. Though it can be strained on our side, God is all in. He does not forsake His children, but refines them continually. However, the refining process is different for different people, because each of us can choose to be refined and changed or to remain stuck in our ways. God can use our mistakes to refine us and draw us back to Him, but His greatest desire is that sanctification, the refining of the soul, have its perfect work; moving us to fight against sin and temptation, and creating within us a heart like our Savior’s.
No matter what the refining process looks like, God never locks up His children in Hell; that is not a punishment reserved for those who have trusted in God.
Our faith may be shaken, and we will stumble at times, but by the grace of God, we will rise with Him in glory. All it takes is a little faith; a humble and contrite spirit before God. Jesus receives that small sacrifice and gives eternal life and the refining and transforming power of His Holy Spirit.
So much of this world is a pooping mess, because its caretakers have forsaken their Master, but the Master of the Vineyard will return soon, and I am determined to be ready and awake when He does return.
I am also determined to lead others to stand beside me in this eternal vigil.
Don’t look at the mess and lose hope. Look at the mess and then lift it up to God. Let Him cleanse you, refine you, and bring you out of darkness and into eternal life.
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