I Kings 19:11-13
“The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
“I’m not fond of cats.” This was always my husband’s (Scruffy) typical answer when anyone asked why we didn’t have a cat, had never had a cat, not even once during our 23-year-marriage. This was an incredible understatement.
But Scruff didn’t really hate cats.
What he hated was a childhood filled with cigarette smoke, tension, cutting manipulation, and the pervasive scent of cat urine. What he hated was going to school where there was the chance of kindness, a smile, maybe friendship … only to have a kid wrinkle their nose at how he smelled. It doesn’t matter how carefully you launder your clothes if the house is full of smoke and cats.
Over the years, as God brought healing and joy and new life, Scruff has softened a bit toward cats, until everything changed on a frosty morning in November.
Someone dumped a half-grown kitten on the mountain meadow where we live. Our neighbor was getting the mail (yes, our mailbox is two miles away from our house and so is theirs) and saw a wet, skinny, orange tabby shivering underneath a hunter’s pickup truck. The hunter said he had no idea where she’d come from and he didn’t want her.
Now, anyone who has approached a stray cat knows that they are a skittish bunch.
Our neighbor didn’t have time to chase a hissing, scratching creature around the forest. “I’ll just try once,” he told himself as he bent and peered into her hiding place. She came right to him.
We lost our beloved Newfoundland dog this year, Princess Leia Freyja, and are on a list for a puppy. So when our neighbor texted, asking if anyone had lost a female tabby, I was shocked at my husband’s reply.
“Let us know if you need help homing it. We’ve been considering getting one.”
What? Was this really my husband? We had not been considering getting one. What had been happening was that every single cat lover in our lives had been sending Scruff photos of adorable kittens in need for the past twenty years and he’d been consistently telling them, “Absolutely not!”
Long story short, we now have a cat.
I wanted to name her Persnickety, because it is the ideal cat name. Scruff wanted to name her Whisper, because despite her harsh start in life, alone and wet on a frosty morning huddled under a stranger’s truck, she is an incredibly gentle cat with the softest voice. A gentle whisper.
Like how God appears to us as we press on through a life that can be so incredibly hard. He doesn’t come like a blast of dynamite, a tornado of power, a world-shattering earthquake (although He can and occasionally, He has). More often, He steps into the darkness of our world with a quiet whisper that changes everything.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Whisper was unloved, unwanted, abandoned on a lonely morning to the cold of a forest full of predators. Have you ever lived that moment? I have. The quiet despair of a strange place, the biting cold of abandonment, the danger, the vast loneliness.
She is clearly not a feral cat. Whisper doesn’t have the harsh independence of those tough and cagy felines that make their own way in the world.
Whisper Persnickety rushes to join me whenever I get out of bed to use the bathroom. She follows me around the house with a quiet mew and bumps against my legs to cuddle and trip me up. When I settle into my little loft office to write, she curls up against my feet and snoozes until I put the final word to the page. When I read in front of the fire, she curls up on my lap and dozes. At night, as soon as Scruff crawls into bed she hops up with a soft meow and curls herself against his side.
“I can’t believe someone didn’t want this cat,” Scruffy told me last night.
The man who felt the heartache of an unhappy childhood every time he saw a cat. This is the man who said that. She has been such a gift as we grieve the loss of our Leia, as we wait on that puppy list, as we miss the presence of a warm fuzzy in our lives. As we missed something we’d never had, a warm cat curled up next to us in bed, purring softly.
Whisper is a gentle, loving cat with good manners and a peaceful presence.
Someone didn’t want her.
If you feel unwanted, today, I want you to stop a moment and listen closely.
Is our Whisper any less valuable because someone didn’t want her? Is she less gentle, less loving, less beautiful because she was found abandoned at the end of a road? Is she less a gift because she was unexpected? Isn’t she the whisper of God’s voice come into our lives when we were hurting? Yes, yes she is and you can be, too.
You are valuable.
You are a gift.
You can be the gentle whisper of a powerful God into the lives of hurting people.
Are you unwanted?
It doesn’t matter.
You are a whisper of hope.