( part 1 )
In Timaru, my wife and I owned a 100 year old cottage, down by the Hospital. There was an empty section next door, and a wild cat gave birth to her litter there.
She used to watch me from the fence top, and was well aware that I was feeding our own cat in the evening.
When her kittens were of weaning age, she would bring them over the fence at night and deposit them on our back lawn, and then sit back to see if I would weaken.
Obviously, she knew a mug when she saw one, and I was now feeding 5 cats. Understandably, my wife was not impressed.
Timaru can be cold in winter, and I told her that I just wanted to help them through to summer.
Each night I would feed our cat , then put her inside, and place 4 equal portions of meat, on the concrete outside our back door.
These cats were 100% feral. Wild to the bone. Even when they were eating they would snarl at each other and at me.
One night I got the bright idea that while they were eating I would reach out and pat one of them.
She turned, bit my hand to the bone, and returned to her meal.
It was deliberate, it was vicious, and there was nothing held back.
As I stepped away, to let them get on with their meal, I felt grieved by what had just happened.
I said; “Lord, I don’t understand, I’ve had cats since I was 9 years of age, and all of them have enjoyed being patted and cuddled; I don’t get it, I have no alterior motives. I just want to show her the fullness of my affection.”
And the Lord said,
“Is that right”?
” Look in her eyes and tell me what you see.”
So I looked, and her eyes were black with a reddish glaze over them.
I’d seen this many times before, so I said, “I see anger”.
The problem with having seen things before, is that we pre-suppose that we were right in the first instance.
And the Lord said,
So I looked, not as one who knew, but as one seeking to know.
And then I saw, and I said to the Lord, “It’s not anger that I see, It’s Fear!”
And this Scripture was given to me.”Perfect love casts out all fear”.
I found myself stuck. I had told the Lord that I had no alterior motives in reaching out to these cats. I just wanted to show them love, and yet they were full of fear.
I said to the lord, “If you were here, in the flesh, and you projected your perfect love for these creatures then according to your Word, their fear would depart and they would be free to fellowship with you”.
Whatever I was projecting towards these cats, was not perfect love. There was something wrong with it. Even a dumb moggy could discern that it had good reason to be mistrustful of my motives.
There was nowhere for me to run, nowhere to hide.
So I said to the Lord, “Show me what is wrong?”
His light came on inside me, and in a moment of time the Lord revealed to me, the hidden motives of my heart. ( 1 Cor 4 vs 5 )
I didn’t give two hoots about these cats. they were just a means to an end.
My family, my friends and neighbours all knew that these cats were feral, and what the Holy Spirit showed me, in that moment of time, was, that I wanted these people to see me having fellowship with the cats, and to say to one another; Look! “Doesn’t John have an understanding of the love of God, even the wild animals submit and come to him”.
When the Lord revealed this to me. Internally, I recoiled in horror, from my own heart. I’d known nothing of what was resident in me.
Externally, I recoiled from the cats. I ended up with my back pressed against the rear wall of the house, and I stood there until the cold of the night seeped into my bones.
Then I remembered the commitment I had made to feed these young cats through the winter, and I said to the Lord;
“Lord, I am not going to reach out to these cats anymore, as I don’t trust my motives. I am going to fulfill my commitment to feed them, and thats all.”
And that’s what I did.
( part 2 )
As we lived close to the Hospital
My wife and I were asked by our Pastor, if we would run a home group, so that the doctors and nurses could have midweek fellowship.
Pretty much everyone who attended was connected one way or another to the Hospital.
We studied Gods word and testified to things God had done during the week. A wonderful time for sharing and prayer.
It became clear over the months that there are only two types in Hospital. Those who believe in God and those who think they are God.
We always had a supper at the end of the evening and one night my wife went through to the kitchen to make the hot drinks.
The others in the room were talking amongst themselves, and as I was sitting there, I felt the anointing of God come on me.
I’d felt this at times before, but never as strong. It poured down my shoulders, through my arms and into my hands, like hot oil.
No one had expressed any further need for prayer. They all seemed quite happily engaged in conversation. I was puzzled.
I needed to go to the toilet, so I got up and moved to the rear part of the house. Being such an old house, our toilet and washhouse were detached from the main building.
I passed through the kitchen where my wife was making supper, and when I opened the back door, the light from the kitchen lit up the area at the back porch. And there were two of the wild cats. Waiting for their food.
Without consciously thinking about what I was doing, I reached down to the female cat, and ran my anointed hand from her head to her tail, and I saw the fear leave her eyes.
Emboldened by this experience, I reached down and did the same with the male cat, and had the same outcome. I was never, snarled at, clawed or bitten by either of them again.
Released from fear, there was nothing blocking us off from fellowship.
Some months later I saw the female cat coming out of an old woodshed at the back of the washouse. I was curious to know what she was up to, and what I found was amazing.
There on the floor was a perfectly formed bowl, about 30 cm in diameter It looked like a large salad bowl. Not of wood or plastic but made entirely of strips of paper that she’d collected from around the neighbourhood. It must have taken weeks of patiently cutting, licking and pasting. I’d never seen anything like it in my life.
It was at this point I realised that the extra weight round her belly was not from overeating.
She was very young but very pregnant !!!
( Part 3 )
A few weeks later, on a warm Saturday morning, it became clear that she was ready to deliver.
She followed me everywhere, even inside the house.
The problem was there was some leakage, and she was dripping from room to room.
Understandably, my wife gave us both our marching orders.
We ended up sitting on the back lawn.
As her time drew near I wondered when she was going to go to the place she had so wonderfully prepared.
Our neighbours were leaning on the fence watching the proceedings, and then, unexpectedly, some friends arrived.
And this wild cat had her kitten, right at my feet, in front of my family, my neighbours, and friends.
We all stood there transfixed as she cleaned her baby off, gave us a good look at him, then picked him up in her mouth and took him to the bed she’d prepared for him.
It is written, “Bring everything into the light, that it’s true content and worth may be revealed, and having been brought into the light, it then becomes light.” (Ephesians 5 vs 13 )
Here is the miracle of God. If we allow the Holy Spirit to shine His light on what motives us, not only is He able to show us what those motives are made up of, but he is also able to turn our darkness into light.
I am so grateful that the Lord didn’t just allow my stinking desires to be manifest, but by the power of the Holy Spirit was able to turn my wrong desire, into the kind of desire he could answer.
It is written, ” When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ” ( James 4 vs 3 )
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask– we know that we have what we asked of him. ( 1 John vs 14 -15 )