Tossing God a Treat?

I love to observe the relationship between my dear wife, Linda and our adorable cat, Noelle.  Linda and Noelle have developed something of an interesting relationship.  Linda has always wanted a lap-cat and revels in the fact that Noelle sits on her lap each time Linda sits in her chair in the parlor (she does not sit on my lap, instead she lays on my desk).  When Linda is at home, Noelle is always hovering near her and Linda can often be seen absentmindedly stroking the cat or scratching behind her ears while reading or working at the computer or whatever she happens to be doing.  There is a hidden reason which is, in part, why this is so.  Noelle knows that if she is going to get any treats, that Linda is the more likely source of them.  She dispenses with such regularity that I have sometimes described Linda’s function in Noelle’s life as “the “perambulatory treat dispenser”.   In fairness, I should disclose that I function in the same way when I visit my mother in California and I have her cats following me around and sitting outside my bedroom door waiting for treats to drop from my fingers, or magically appear from under the closed door.  But that happens only twice a year for a few days.  Linda, on the other hand, is the one to whom Noelle says, “Give me this day, my daily treats.”

Occasionally, but with some degree of regularity, Noelle will misbehave as all cats are wont to do.  She may get up on the back of Linda’s high-backed chair (Linda hates that), or she may nudge her hands with her nose while Linda is trying to write or type.   She’s been known to dig in the potted plants, pulling the dirt out on to the floor.  She also likes to get up on top of the kitchen cabinets where we keep our collectable creamer and sugar sets.  And, worst of all, she will sometimes pee on the bathroom carpet.  I sometimes think it is me that has done that … by standing on the carpet after showering (not by peeing) … but Linda has a nose that knows the difference and her nose indicts Noelle!  When these untoward things happen, Linda loosens her tongue and excoriates the poor pussy cat with scolding that scorches my ears.  She even withholds the treats from her for as much as an hour at a time!  It’s not long, however before Noelle will do something which indicates her desire to have Linda’s approval again and inevitably Linda will be stroking and dispensing and fawning as though nothing had happened.

How many of us engage in a relationship with God that is similar to the relationship between Linda and Noelle?  Are we guilty of fawning over God and dispensing him the “treats” of our service and worship as long as God does the things that we enjoy and performs in the way we want Him to?  But should God “misbehave” we withhold our praise, refusing to worship and slacking in our service as though our refusal to worship and serve might cause him to repent and comply with our desires and plans.

Listen to the words of Mary as she voiced her heart to Elizabeth:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
“The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” – Luke 1.46,49

God’s plan of redemption was brought to completion as the Child whom Mary carried in her womb eventually died on the cross, was raised from the dead and ascended to heaven with the promise of  eternal life for all who follow him, regardless of who they were or what station in life they occupied.

Why should we worship? Because God has done “great things” for us!  And no greater thing can he do than to act as our Savior, lifting up the lowly who submit to him, filling the hungry with the food of life, peace, and fellowship with the divine, and scattering the proud who resist his grace in favor of earthly lures.

This is a perspective on worship that has been shoved to the back in favor of a focus on how God “behaves” on a day to day basis.

Certainly God has “behaved” exceedingly well toward us in providing for our needs and even beyond what we need.  Be thankful and worship Him who gives such gifts.  But do not allow those gifts to be the sole basis for your worship.  God has done a far greater thing in each of our lives: He has become our Savior! Jesus Christ, whose birth we anticipate in these days prior to Christmas, represents the greatest gift that could ever be given.  Let us never be guilty of overlooking the import of this ultimate gift – and whether this Christmas finds us in abundance or scarcity, may we always find within our hearts, the ability to offer worship to God our Savior.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
“The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

By the way … Linda may be the perambulatory treat dispenser but I feel it only fair to acknowledge that I have taken the role of the “revolving door switch”.  Whenever Noelle wants to go outside on her leash, I’m the one she comes to first … several times a day.  I’m such a sucker for a plaintiff meow.