We have a dog. To all you cat-lovers out there, I am currently sticking my tongue out at you… but not all the way, because I like cats, too. In fact, I like most anything that helps me appreciate how much God loves me more than them. Actually, I am pretty sure that I don’t like possums. I just cannot find any redeeming qualities in a large rodent that does little more than decorate the shoulder of the highway with a drab, rather tattered layer of fur. At least raccoons offer a slightly less drab décor. Certainly the subtle lines of the art-deco inspired skunk pelts give pleasant relief to the eyes (if not the nose) while driving. But, possums are the brown shag carpet of roadside animals.
Anyway, cats and dogs do have redeeming qualities. They are friendly (some of the time), and clean (if you don’t own one), and offer great companionship (unless they are spoiled, grumpy, sick, distracted, stubborn, dirty, smelly, or disobedient). In fact, it would seem that owning a cat or dog is very similar to having children (an experience I have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy; but, judging from my own childhood experiences with my younger brother, raising children certainly seems challenging, in the least). But, that is another discussion. We are talking about cats and dogs.
Now, cat-lovers will say that cats have a distinct advantage over dogs, namely, that they are, and I quote, “very clean animals.” “Clean” and “animals” are two words that are not often found together in the same sentence, unless you are talking to your local groomer. And, yet, cat-lovers have managed to somehow close their eyes (and noses) to the facts of the case in order to make such claims. Maybe cat-lovers who make such a claim have assigned the duties of emptying the litter box to their (already dirty and smelly; *see previous paragraph) children.
It is true that cats are particularly skilled at grooming themselves. They will spend hours licking their fur with their comb-like little tongues (check it out if you have never noticed…cats have a rough, comb-like tongue), making sure every hair is clean (or as clean as hair can get when licked) and in place. Dogs, on the other hand, are much more efficient, only licking in strategic locations to maximize use of time and energy.
This difference between cats and dogs can be clearly seen from a simple experiment: pour a bucket of water over a cat’s head (your own, not your neighbor’s…in fact, don’t try this at home…this is a hypothetical experiment that should only be performed in extreme emergencies at the direction of skilled animal handlers, or with the aid of a computer simulation), then pour a bucket of water over a dog’s head, and sit back to watch the reactions. You will notice that the cat will walk (or run, scamper, or climb) away defeated, and will spend the next three and a half weeks putting every hair back in order with a nice, even coat of cat saliva. You will also notice that the dog will cheerily shake the excess water from his fur, and will trot off in his usual good mood with not a care in the world (except what to dig up or chew up next).
I would rather be like the dog. God has offered us cleansing that we could never do for ourselves. God offers complete cleansing, not just the pseudo-cleansing that we might attempt. Hebrews 10:22 says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” [ESV] We can have confidence before God, confidence in our sinlessness, because of the cleansing God has given those of us who have committed to Him in faith. We can be carefree and guilt-free if we have Christ.
But, we have the tendency to be the cat. We walk around feeling defeated by sin, as if God has not really cleansed us, or we think we can clean ourselves. Instead, we need to let our Master do the cleansing. This removes pride and gives confidence all at once.
So, whether you see a dog, or a cat, or roadkill, hopefully you can think of God. Unless it is a possum, in which case I will only warn you to be careful about your thoughts. Possums are God’s creatures, too…if just barely.