Steven C Wyer | Healing Cats

 Thirty plus years ago I was offered a vocal music scholarship to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At the time I was living in the western suburbs of Chicago and had never been to Oklahoma. All I knew was the song.

They had a weekend opportunity for prospective students to visit, and so I did. ORU had a “full gospel” theology which meant they spoke in tongues, prophesied and believed in healing. I attended First Presbyterian Church back home, but our youth pastor had been at an Assembly of God church before getting the call from the Fox Valley Presbytery. Pastor Paul was very cool and he believed in those aspects of faith, so I figured the full gospel thing was probably okay.

I was assigned a host for the weekend. On Saturday, we hopped into his car (I’ll call him Tom since I can’t remember his name). Tom pulled out onto Lewis Street, heading west toward a fast food restaurant for some lunch.  And this is where it got weird. We hadn’t gone two blocks when, without warning, Tom locked up his brakes just as the sound of a little thud hit the car. At first I thought it was a ball or road debris...but it was a cat.

The next few moments were a blur with the exception of one distinct memory. Tom, on his knees in the road, praying for the cat. He was not asking the Great I Am to comfort this feline (it was dead as a doornail), he was praying for God to restore its life--a “raised from the dead” answer to Tom’s earnest plea. I just sat there. This was so far outside my comfort zone that all I could do was watch. A dead cat, Tom’s faith and God.

Tom had the faith but the cat unfortunately did not. This was just the first of many faith demonstrations that I’ve experienced over the last three decades. People laying it all out there with the conviction/assurance that their faith would allow for the contradiction of the laws of nature.

I haven’t ever prayed for anything I've run over. I have prayed for cars, houses, romantic relationships and yes, once I prayed that I would die. In retrospect it was probably best that nearly none of those prayers were “answered”.

Two thoughts about this. First, I can’t improve on the Garth Brooks song Thank God for Unanswered Prayer. But another thought has been rolling around in my head. It's about the age-old issue of faith. I haven’t ever had the type of faith Tom had. I've never prayed for things like a cat. But somedays I really think I am growing into a man of faith until…

I always have a crisis of faith when I am in a situation that might seem to those on the outside that it’s not really faith I’m exhibiting, but simply poor judgment. I choose to believe that it is faith. I understand that my “it” may look like abstract hope or grasping at the power of positive thinking. But I have read enough regarding faith to believe that it’s precisely at a moment of crisis that faith begins, not ends. That is the point!

What I'm struggling with these days is that I want to grow and mature in faith to the point that I don’t react to the emotion of a situation, but instead see it for what it really is. I want that but I also do not want to look the fool, kneeling down and praying for whatever is the “cat” in my life. Even if some pleading with heaven is misguided, naive or foolish. My fear and pride are what war with my other man, the man of faith struggling to get free. What it comes down to is that I’m simply afraid to trust God with the situation.

I think that faith is supposed to be about looking like the fool. But when it involves my family, finances, the future, divine guidance and faith-based conviction, I stand at a crossroads every day. Can I have authentic faith today? Do I care what other people think? Will I feel the conviction to pray for a cat? Will I decide to do it no matter what it looks like?

These are the things that keep me awake at night. They are murky, not because of the different potential outcomes (as terrifying as they may be), but because I am praying for a specific outcome.  I want to control the outcome. I need to convince God that losing my job is bad, that making less money cannot be from Him. I have to persuade God to see that my going down a ladder when everyone else is going up is bad for His reputation.

Now who looks foolish? Faith to trust the unseen God is what we are called to. The outcome is not ours to define. The process, however, is ours to benefit from.

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