After arriving home from work in the wee hours of the morning, my son Kevin blissfully slept in in the comfort of his bed while his fiance Alexandria was in her home office, teaching English to schoolkids in China online. Suddenly their cat Iniko came bursting through the dog door with a still-alive bird in her mouth, which unexpectedly got free and started flying around the house in a panic, shedding feathers like rain! Poor Alex was able to grab the cat, then she burst into the bedroom and threw it onto sleeping Kevin, who woke up with a start and in his sleep-numbed state thought she said, “Entertain her for me while I teach the class!”
Obligingly, Kevin tried to get the cat to cuddle in bed with him, to no avail... or to play with its toys (not interested), his shoestrings (nope)... anything other than scratching and howling at the door to get back out! He couldn't figure out why the cat was so crazy to hang with Alex that morning, but did his best to “entertain” her for his beloved so she could teach her class. Finally after an hour he gave up, and texted Alex to say, “I can't do this. The cat just wants to be with you.”
By this time Alex's class was over and she explained to him what had happened. What she had said to him when dumping the cat in the room was not "Entertain the cat", but “Come help me catch this bird”!!! She must've been so confused, wondering why he stayed locked up in the room with the cat while she was trying to catch the bird and teach her class at the same time! She did finally manage to grab the latter and throw it back outside, leaving the house littered in feathers!! At least the Chinese students must've been vastly entertained; I'm sure they think we Americans live pretty crazy lives!
This story intrigued me for more than its entertainment purposes; I've lived it!... albeit not with cats and captured birds. But perhaps there has been a time in your life, as well, when you thought you had received certain instructions, worked diligently if unsuccessfully at following them... only to find out later that what you were doing was not what was intended at all. In my attempts to find my purpose in the Kingdom of God I have mistakenly thought He wanted me to be in charge of the nursery at one church, assume the financial duties of treasurer in another ministry, and later lead a women's fellowship group after the current president retired from the job. I did my best in each of these attempts, yet ended each with a plea to God to release me, saying as Kevin did, “I can't do this.”
God knew that, of course. He had never intended for me to take on any of those positions, because He knew I hadn't the giftings to succeed in any of those situations. I was right in pursuing His direction, right in my willingness to serve... but wrong in what I thought I heard Him say. It became apparent to me that I was serving out of a mistaken sense of duty. Each of the jobs I had taken on needed filling, and in my attempt to serve the Lord I loved, I thought it was my Christian obligation to fill those spots... whether I liked what I was doing, or not. And I did not. My willingness was all I brought to those positions... and it wasn't enough.
Finally I told the Lord that I found
myself resenting the latest job I had taken on because it took time
away from what I really wanted to do, which was to write...
that there was a joy in that activity that I didn't find in any other
area of service. And suddenly I understood that that was what
He had intended for me to do all along. I found joy in scribing words
because He had given me the
ability to put them together well... for His purposes. I simply hadn't heard His leadings in that direction because I was operating from a more conventional list of service options.
The relief and excitement that followed that revelation was indescribable. I resigned from my leadership position immediately, and just as quickly received a new assignment in the area of my joy, confirmed independently of each other by two people I trusted as followers of Christ to know the sound of the Shepherd's voice. And I have simply never looked back.
I still struggle at times when the pastor speaks of needs in the church that are waiting for volunteers, and truly we all bear a measure of responsibility in doing whatever needs to be done. But I listen a little more closely now to the Voice I follow... so that I'm not spending all my energy calming the cat when I'm supposed to be catching the bird.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)