A Parable

IMG_3246I just drove down to the post office to mail an old, worn-out pair of shoelaces to a cat! It had to be one of the weirdest packages I’ve ever sent. But Dexter, who is my “grand-cat,” was lost without those shoelaces and overjoyed to have them back. Before you think I’ve gone off the deep end, here’s the story.

I’ve written about Dexter before—how he was a homeless, rescue cat that no one wanted. My daughter and her husband gave him a temporary foster home and “tamed” him to help their overcrowded, local animal shelter. When a permanent home was found and Dexter was suddenly snatched from our lives, we all realized how very much we’d grown to love him and his quirky personality. Dexter must have missed us too, because a week later, his new owners returned him to the shelter, saying things weren’t working out. My daughter and son-in-law welcomed him back, permanently adopting him into their home.IMG_2114

The old, tattered, half-unraveled shoelaces in this story came from my son-in-law’s hiking boots. He threw the laces into the garbage after replacing them with a new pair. Dexter retrieved them from the trash and made them his new favorite toy. Tied together, they make one long string that he entertains himself with for hours. He holds one end of the lace in his mouth and runs in circles around a chair or under the dining room table, wildly chasing the other end. Sometimes the shoelace gets so entangled in the chair rungs that his creation resembles a spider’s web. Unconcerned, he leaves it there when he’s finished playing. He has figured out how to unravel it again when he’s ready to renew the chase.

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I kitty-sat for Dexter and his cat-brother, Leonidas, when my daughter and her husband went on vacation two weeks ago. Dexter had a grand time chasing his shoelace all over my house while he was here and winding it around my dining room chairs. And I have to admit that I enjoyed my morning snuggles with him when he would climb onto my lap to be hugged and petted, purring like a chainsaw, shedding white fur everywhere. But when we drove the cats back to Chicago, we accidentally left the shoelace behind. No other cord or string or shoelace could take the place of the worn-out, fraying one Dexter had grown to love. So I mailed it back to him. He retrieved it from the envelope himself.IMG_3250

IMG_2662Now, I’m normally not one of those people who give human emotions to animals. But I can’t deny that Dexter’s shoelace makes him happy. And his story moves me because it’s such a perfect picture of redemption. My daughter and son-in-law took a wild, bedraggled cat into their home and redeemed him through their love and patience. He’s not the same animal that first arrived at the shelter. And Dexter’s “love” for a worn-out, discarded shoelace transformed it into a toy that was worthy of first-class postage.

indexGod redeems us because He is somehow able to look past our rough exterior and see a beloved child in need of grace. And the love He extends to us through His Son Jesus has the power to transform us and change our lives. Every time I look at Dexter and his shoelace I have to wonder how often I’ve turned away from difficult, unlovable people, judging them unredeemable, unworthy of my time or compassion or love. And I wonder what miracles might take place if I learned to see people the way this once-unlovable cat saw a piece of trash. Or the way our Heavenly Father sees me.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103: 13-14).