Please read FIRST: I do not condone the injuring of animals, nor do I intend to imply that people are like cats. This is an analogy. It is an imperfect picture of the point I am trying to convey.
Please read SECOND: I do not condone the injuring of animals, nor do I intend to imply that people are like cats. This is an analogy. It is an imperfect picture of the point I am trying to convey.
Whew—I had to get that out of the way. I did not want someone calling to send me to sensitivity school. I never liked school very much.
We lost our cat: “Little Moses.” “Little Moses” was our amazing cat. He did not part the red sea, but he did have babies. Actually, he had 2 litters. We either need to improve our homeschooling in the area of anatomy or call Ripley’s Believe it or Not. But we loved “Little Moses.”
Anyway, this is Little Moses’ story: a year ago we found an entire litter of kittens right outside our office in Augusta, Georgia. Actually, that is not accurate. I did not find anything at all. The whole thing was a scam. Everyone knew it except me. The staff found the kittens and knew I would never take them, so they called my wife, Anne. They told Anne there were just two or three, but when she arrived, they must have multiplied because she found six, all way too young to be left alone—so young, none of their eyes were even open yet. They had ticks, fleas, and ants all over them. They were the saddest bunch of kittens you had ever seen. When I got home, I found my wife and children with small bottles of milk, hand feeding six kittens. Every three hours, the feeding repeated again and again and again.
“Little Moses” was the smallest of the bunch. We did not think he would make it. His little paws looked as if they had been burned. We fed him, washed him, and held him. When it was time to give them away, we couldn’t part with “Little Moses,” so we kept him. And then he became fat, or maybe pregnant. Then he became “Little Miss Moses.” The first litter was delivered in a bad storm that left an oak tree in our house. The second litter was born 2 days before moving to Columbus.
She was happy in Columbus, except for the owls and hawks, and she was doing really well until she went missing. She was gone one day, and then two, and three—signs went up—four, five… “Curse you owls!” No word, no phone call. We were very sad. “Little Moses” has been a survivor from day one. Finally, her nine lives had run out. We figured it must have been an owl, a dog, another cat or something. Around day 6 or 7, Anne went to the outside garage and heard a soft meow. Could “Moses” have been in the garage all along? As the door went up, she staggered out. A little weak, but a survivor still. We immediately fed and watered her. But she was different—a little more grown up maybe? …maybe gone from survivor to warrior or hunter. That afternoon, for the first time ever, she caught her prey—not one, but three chipmunks.
It was as if her time in solitary confinement had changed her. She had gone from a well-fed, soft, pampered kitten to the chipmunk killer. She was doing her best to survive. You can’t really blame her. It really was the environment she was left in. It was a hard environment with limited resources. We were glad she survived.
Now read the warning again.
Many of the people I care for come from tough environments, with very little resources. Many people do the best they can with the little they have. The entire system is just messed up. But everyone living there knows the rules. They know how to play the system. They are all survivors. They rely on government, cunning, skill and more to survive. No one gets married because they get less money from the government. The more kids you have, the more money you get. If you start working, you lose disability. There is no motivation to push forward. There is no motivation to get out. If you start taking steps forward, they lose some of the little resources they have. Do they take this change or do what their neighbors have done for generations? Why not drink another Schlitz Malt Liquor, have sex again, and wait for the time to pass—it is all vanity. If 7 days changed Little Moses, how much would a lifetime change you? Chipmunks everywhere.
From the outside, it looks ridiculous. How can you let the environment affect you so much? It is easy to condone this behavior, especially from the outside. I was thinking what I might look like if I was locked in the neighborhood for a week. Then the entire situation flipped on me. How ridiculous does my system look like from the outside? What would happen if you locked them in my neighborhood? Would making one of my patients a middle class citizen solve their problems or cause new ones?
We look like we have it all figured out—all of life in a neat little package. We are busy and driven. We live life full of passion. We want to change the world and leave our mark. Those things are not bad except when the motivation that drives them are not pure. We are not busy to build the kingdom of God. We are not passionate about Jesus. We are not leaving a mark for Christ. No, we are busy to make a name for ourselves—to build our own kingdom—to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and then show the world what we are made of. We are winners, leaders, first. Once again, all of this sounds great until we read the Bible. “The first will be last”—“Jesus did not come to be served but to serve”—Jesus did not even come to do His own will, but His Father’s in heaven. This business and success and drivenness is just another form of Schlitz Malt Liquor and sex—waiting for time to pass—it is all vanity and chipmunks are still falling.
The poor and rich alike need to be placed in a new neighborhood – The neighborhood of Christ. Gandhi once said, “I like your Jesus, but I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” We need to follow in the footsteps of Christ. One of my patients in Augusta was a black man who really felt like he was a woman. He dressed up as a lady and sometimes went down to 9th street to get picked up by men. We had wonderful talks about Jesus. Finally, I told him that I did not want him to be like me—a white middle class Christian. He agreed. And then I told him that I did not want him to be like him. He looked puzzled. “I want you to be like Jesus,” I said. This is the only answer that does not lead to vanity.
There is no difference between Schlitz and sex and self-reliance and self-promotion. And until our neighborhoods follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we will be battling the lower, middle, and upper classes thinking one is greater or worse than the other, not realizing they will all lead us to the road of destruction because they are all centered on man. We need the kingdom of God. We need a miracle greater than parting the sea and “Little Moses” having babies. We need the miracle of changed hearts and neighborhoods. Imagine if we dropped my friend into a neighborhood where people considered others more important than themselves – where people were battling to be the biggest servant, where people gave away their coats and walked an extra mile with someone in need, where humility reigned. I think my friend would come out a different person in less than seven days.
O Lord may your kingdom come quickly.
Come, Lord Jesus, come!
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