Recalled To Life

My office had been incredibly busy. When the phone rang, I groaned and wondered for the fiftieth time how people seemed to pick the worst moment of the day to call.  Of course, every moment of my day was a horrible time to get a phone call, including the moment my wife called about the least important creature in the world.

“Well, I’ve got another cat.”

That got my attention. We had cats in our barn, cats on our porch, cats on our couches and cats in our bed, each and every night. In fact, we had twenty-three cats. I wasn’t happy.

“Hal found her down by the “S” curve. He didn’t bring her back, but I went down to take a look at her. Hal thought she got hit by a car.”

I sighed softly. Hal, my handyman, knew better than to tell Kathy about some lost cat.  My wife rescued animals; rabbits, dogs, cats, birds, raccoons, possums, a flying squirrel and even a bat. She actually nursed the bat back to health. I returned from work on more than one occasion, and found myself sharing my home with a wild critter that stays up all night.

Hal, on the other hand, was afraid of animals. This was surprising because he was covered with tattoos and had been a biker with the Outlaws for several years. He looked a bit like a gaunt version of Willie Nelson and he had a heart of gold. His daughter had died from some unknown cause several years before, and on the anniversary of her death, Hal would stay home, drunk, for a week. Sometimes, Hal would break down crying at work and ask to go home. Hal knew better than to tell my wife about a lost cat, but it was hopeless: the man didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He wasn’t about to actually pick up the lost creature, but he wasn’t going to leave it by the side of the road,either. That’s where my wife came in.

“Well, do we have any idea who it belongs to? Have you checked with the neighbors?”

I was already rehearsing the lecture I was  going to give Hal.

“Yeah, Hal and I asked everyone. We went into Hortonville and walked all the way down Thomlinson Rd. Nobody knew anything. I’ve got her in the basement.”

I looked at my watch. The light was blinking on my other phone, as another call came in. Barb was standing at the door with a stack of reports and bills in her hand. Just then, Lillian, my personal assistant, pushed past, rolling her eyes as she dropped a letter from my daughter’s insurance company on my desk. The light on my phone was still blinking.

“We can run an ad. I’ll have Lil do it.” Lillian glared at me for a moment.

“One more thing…” Kathy cut in.

I winced for the benefit of my staff and cocked my head.

“The cat is blind.”

I lifted my hand to put everyone on hold. The phone quit blinking and my message light came on.

“What? Are you out of your mind? What are we going to do with a blind cat?”

Barb could tell I was already angry and mouthed “I’ll come back,” and retreated to the hallway.

“Well, she’s not only blind, she’s deaf. And she doesn’t act right. I think Hal’s right: she might’ve been hit by a car. I want you to come home and pray for her.” Silence. “I couldn’t leave her out there.”

I waved Lillian off, and sat back in my chair. This was going to be a long day.

“Karl, she’s pitiful. She’s got long hair and its all matted and tangled; she’s a terrible mess. She doesn’t know where she is and she’s really tame. She belongs to somebody. ”

I was less than impressed.

“I read in Matthew,”  Kathy continued, “where Jesus said, ‘Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me,’ and, Karl, she ‘s the least, most unimportant, creature in the world right now. You can’t find anybody more pitiful or least than her.”

I thought about that for a moment. Nobody has any use for a blind, deaf, bedraggled old cat. Kathy was right, this lost, friendless creature was the least of the least. “Well, she probably got out of somebody’s house around there. I’ll knock on doors on Saturday.”

When I finally got back home, Kathy led me to the basement, where she had set up a bed and litter box for the unfortunate animal. As she opened the door, the powerful smell of feces poured from the room. Inside, the floor was covered with excrement and urine The poor animal had apparently lost its sense of smell and couldn’t find the litter box. That wasn’t the worst of it. The yellow cat’s fur must have been long and fluffy at one time, but now it lay matted and gnarled, infused with briars and dirt. It was also smeared with feces. I almost threw up. Gingerly stepping around pools of urine, I approached the cat,  which wobbled unsteadily near a pile of blankets. The cat was unaware of my presence as I looked into its clouded eyes and, as I laid my hand on its matted fur, the cat began, to my horror, rubbing itself against me. I pushed her back and we began to pray that the Living God would fully heal this poor animal’s brain and restore her sight and hearing.

When we were done, I did a cursory examination and quickly confirmed that the animal could neither see nor hear. We found our way past the excrement and shut the door behind us.

Over the next couple of weeks, Kathy faithfully tended to the blind cat. She bathed her, cleaned up after her, tried to comb her hair, and made sure she knew where her food and water were. All the while, I tried to find her owner and ignore the fact that the cat would probably be better off being put to sleep.

One hectic day at work, after another week or two had passed, the phone rang for the fiftieth time that day. Exasperated, I picked up the receiver.

“Hello.”

Kathy’s voice was matter of fact. “Karl, I’ve got good news and bad. Which do you want first?
I thought for a moment. “Bad.”

Well, I decided to put the cat outside In the dog pen, but I can’t keep her in. She climbs the fence.

“And the good news is?”

“God healed the cat. She can see.”

All I could muster was a puzzled, “What?”

“God healed the cat.”

There was silence as I tried to understand what she had just said.

“What do you mean, He healed her?”

“She can see; and hear. She can smell her food, too.”

And it was true. God had reached down from heaven and healed the least important being on the face of the earth. Her eyes were now clear. She could definitely see, hear and smell. Kathy named her Recalled To Life, and since we were never able to find her owner, Kathy made our miracle cat a home on our front deck, where she lived out her days.

I thought about that cat many times since her healing eight years ago. I often wondered why God performed those miracles for an abandoned pitiful creature like Recalled. After all, many people are in need of amazing miracles. I knew it wasn’t because of any great faith of mine, and I wondered if it was because of Kathy’s love for animals or her appreciation for God’s scripture.

And then, years later, I asked God once again why he had shown such a miracle to a blind, deaf, unloved, unwanted, broken creature that was covered in filth, and I heard a voice deep in my heart; the voice, I believe, of the Living God; say simply:

“Don’t you know?”

I thought back to when I first met the God of Israel. Blind to the truth, deaf to wisdom, I was lost and alone. I had been a fugitive from justice for six years, trapped in a terrifying world of LSD flashbacks, unable to find my way back to sanity. My hair, unwashed for weeks, carried roaches from time to time. At the edge of humanity, sitting in darkness, enmeshed with sin, I had become a fool.

Like the cat Kathy had found, He came to me at a moment when all was lost, with no hope for deliverance and in the grip of forces far stronger than I. We both had been Recalled To Life by a God for whom no act of kindness is too small, no act of mercy too insignificant, for Him to take notice.

“Karl,” I heard in my heart, “you were once that cat.”