Since we have moved into our new house, the Spirit of Adoption has come upon us......well, maybe just me. We have already been through four porch kittens, with only one who remains. Stephan named him Machete because of his piercing eyes and because we all felt he needed a good, strong name in order to survive; and survived he has. (Tinsley and Spiderman: the first two kittens abandoned by their mother on Mother's day were cat-napped right off our front porch. Emperor Meowums had a wrangle with a car and went to be with Jesus.)
For being a wild, little kitten Machete is wonderfully affectionate, and demands your lap when you sit on the acre of front porch we have. Pretty early on in our adoption of Machete, he incurred a series of injuries, leaving his meower broken, and on his back was a huge, gaping, crusty wound. Try as we may to attend to this wound, he always seemed to re-injur it. We decided that if it didn't begin healing by a certain point we'd take him to the vet and just pray it wouldn't be too expensive. The wound was what one might expect any wild animal to have: gross, bloody, stinky, oozing and crusty. (Just to describe it a little).
One particular morning I was sitting on the porch steps drinking my coffee, taking in the morning and thanking the Lord for all His many blessings. From across the street, Machete spots me sitting on the steps and comes galloping across the road, with what appears to be a smile on his face. Immediately I grab my mug of coffee, and shuffle in my pj's and slippers off the steps to sit in a chair where he can't reach my lap. The only thought running through my head was "Ewwww, I don't want him to touch me. He's so dirty, yucky." (thinking about the gaping, oozing wound on his back). I make an attempt to get back into my little hang out with the Lord session and realize that i can't get back into it. Machete was patiently sitting at my feet staring up at me trying to meow. Suddenly I hear the Lord...
"He is not his injury"
Machete silently meows again
"He is NOT his injury"
Machete stares a hole in my head
I say nothing
"His identity does not lie in his wound"
"Do not withhold your love from someone because they have a dirty wound"
I begin weeping. What have I done? I can't believe I have been so selfish. What a monumental lesson this precious little kitten had taught me! I scooped him into my ams and squeezed him apologizing for all the times I withheld my love from him because of his wound. I realized that this was not just about loving orphan kittens with scrapes on their backs, this was much bigger, and that if I didn't learn it with a dirty little porch cat, I would never be effective with people who walked around with gaping wounds needing love......needing Jesus.
There is much to be learned from Machete. At least I learned a lot. If we are really willing to love......to REALLY love we have to be willing to embrace the messy ones, the dirty ones, the people with large, crusty, oozing, bloody wounds that need attention, that need love, that need Jesus. We need to love the ones who no matter how many times they've been helped with their wound, they still go back and do the same things to re-injur the same spot over and over. There are hundreds of thousands of people walking the earth with gaping wounds: divorce, post-abortion issues, drug addiction, homelessness, poverty, abuse, alcohol addiction, pornography addiction, broken hearts, depression, prostitution, and so much more. How do we view them? Do we get up and sit in a chair where they can't reach us? Where they won't inconvenience our lives?
I have withheld love too many times because I identified a person by the wound they have incurred. The Lord called me out that day. People do not gain their identity by the pain that has been inflicted upon them. They gain their identity from the love of the Lord, and by it He calls us Sons and Daughters. He calls us righteous by the blood of the Lamb, and has given us callings and gifts.
this is what Jesus came to do.....it is also what I hope to become:
...because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
thanks for the lesson Machete, we love you.
note: Machete's wound healed up shortly after this life lesson was taught to me. He is alive and well roaming the streets of Rock Hill, coming by for foods and ministry on our giant front porch.