Prayer, A Cat Named Esther, and Spreadsheets

I started out my time this morning by getting a nice cup of hot tea and reclining on my sofa to enjoy some prayer time and, hopefully, writing time. The latter came unexpectedly. Here’s how.

I’ve started trying to get more disciplined in prayer and Bible reading by doing spreadsheets, just to keep track of what I have done and where I need to go. Spreadsheets, like day-timers, iPad apps, and various other schedulers, are great tools. But they are just tools—something to help you get the job done.

Now, we have two cats, Esther (a darker gray tabby cat, with some underbelly tan-and-white, and white paws) and Maggie Moo. In the mornings they want to be fed, but I don’t feed them—at least not now, because we’re started trying to change them back to softer foods for their health’s sake. Not really my thing, all in all—I was never a cat-person before marrying Diane almost 13 years ago. But she loves them, and I’ve come to love them too.

So, I’m up, but Diane isn’t, and the cats want feeding. They’re getting used to my not feeding them first thing, but Esther, unlike Maggie, likes to be rubbed, and since there’s no food, rubbing is the next best thing. I’m trying to do my spreadsheet thingee and get going, but Esther wants to lay beside me on the sofa and press against my side and have me rub her. I’m thinking, “I really need to get going here,” and then I hear the Lord speak (internally, of course—I’m not on Mt. Horeb, after all)…

“Let it go for now.” And I realize what he wants me to do is focus on the moment, forget scheduling, just pet the cat. Doesn’t seem that spiritual—and I guess it’s not really, but as I start to stroke her and watch her purr and close her eyes and just soak it in, I realize that that’s how he wants to relate to me—just to have me soak him in, close my eyes, and enjoy. And so I lean back, stroke Esther, and just enjoy that, and thinking about him, and thanking him.

It really is about relationship. Spreadsheets and timer tools can help get you on your way and keep other things from distracting, but ultimately, it’s about the end-goal—not the means of getting there. Once you’re there, put the tools down.

Jesus even sort of viewed… [oops, just had to spend another 25 minutes stroking Esther—she came back, laid by my side with her paws against me and my forearm along her back, and I stroked behind her ears and drifted off myself for a while! Then my wife got up: FOOD TIME!] … Jesus viewed himself as a tool for relationship with the Father: statements like “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father,” “The time will come when you will no longer ask me—you’ll ask the Father directly,” and “I am the way/gate/door/etc.” point to him as the pathway to real intimacy with the Father—the kind he had.

Tools are great—but when you’ve built the house, put the tools away and just live in the house.

Why don’t you “ante up your kitty” today? Find something that helps you pray, and just soak it up!

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