They say we can learn from children but I would like to extend that idea to include cats. In fact we can learn from all of creation; the lessons await but our attention and attitude often hinder us from seeing a truth that is clearly demonstrated before us.
One of my cats recently got quite sick after sneaking outside and rummaging around the neighborhood. This particular cat is named Pork Chop (my son named him). The day after “Pork Chop’s Big Adventure,” he sat sullenly in the corner of the house and moaned as if he was at death’s doorstep. I was not sure what was wrong and called a Vet who said it could be a urinary tract infection. That was of great concern as it could be fatal if it went untreated. I resigned myself to delivering Pork Chop to the Vet’s office on the following day.
After getting up and making preparations to transport Pork Chop, I was surprised to see that he no longer appeared to be in pain and was back to his old, mischievous cat self. He was tearing around the house and showed no signs of the previous days wows. After another call to the Vet we concluded that Pork Chop had probably eaten or chewed upon something during his neighborhood jaunt that had caused the day of sickness. Whatever it was now seemed to have worked its way through his system and we concluded that no further action was necessary unless the symptoms returned.
Two days later the Pork Chop snuck out again and decided to embark on “Pork Chop’s Big Adventure Part 2.” Low and behold he came home and was once again deathly sick the following day. Once again he returned to normal health after a day of letting whatever poison he’d ingested work its way through his system. His health returned but his judgment appeared to be paralyzed or at least in a state of suspension.
I was exasperated that Pork Chop didn’t learn a lesson from his first experience. Then it dawned on me that people often do the same thing. We get a burning desire to follow our own intuition even when it is plainly contradictory to common sense, past experience and wisdom of any kind. I think that tendency probably inspired Albert Einstein to define insanity as “doing the same thing expecting different results.”
How does this relate to the Garden of Eden? Remember depiction of the creation process in the book of Genesis? God created the earth and everything in it. He created all the animals, sea creatures, birds, insects and all living creatures. He planted the earth with all of the flowers, trees, grass, vegetation, herbs and made it magnificent. Then God created man in His image and expressed that His purpose was for man to have dominion over all that He had created. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone and He created woman to be his companion, helper and joint heir.
Just think what an awesome gift and opportunity were handed to Adam. He was given everything He could ever need or want and a beautiful mate to enjoy it with! Adam was like the ultimate Trust Fund baby – everything was handed to him on a platter of God’s own making. What a deal!
Adam’s situation and Pork Chop’s are really quite similar. My cat has always had everything that he needed – food, a safe place to live, attention and even a companion. He pretty much lives in the lap of luxury with no pressure to work or do anything except enjoy what has been given to him. He lives a life with almost no constraints other than the fact that he’s encouraged not to venture outside the home. After all why would you want to go out and chew on poisoned grass and dodge cars when you could sit on a soft bed, be pampered with attention, and simply wait for your next meal to be served?
The situation that God offered man was quite similar to the one I give my cat. He was given everything he could possibly need or want. There was only one constraint – the Home Owner’s Association manual for the Garden of Eden had just one restriction. When did the walk through with Adam and Eve prior to turning the property over to them he said:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2: 16-17
Boundaries can sometimes be restrictive, negative and even punitive. Sometimes, however, the boundaries are set for the best interests of those involved. I restrict Pork Chop to the house for his own safety. God told Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to protect him. The fruit on that tree was poison just like whatever Pork Chop ate when he decided to ignore my boundaries. Man chose to ignore the advice of God and eat from the one tree that had clearly been labeled as hazardous to his health. In the moment that Adam took the first bite of that poisoned apple he invited an incurable disease into his body and the perfect inheritance he had been given was instantly compromised.
I’m thankful that Pork Chop recovered from the sickness he brought upon himself and I’m also thankful for the lesson it taught me. God proved Himself to me more than 30 years ago. He provided me with everything I needed and has proven Himself to be 100% trustworthy. In spite of that I have more than once decided to venture outside the safety of the boundaries He set. The results of those expeditions were never good. Just like Pork Chop I always ended up sick, hurt or in some form of regrettable jeopardy. I’m not sure if Pork Chop has learned his lesson yet but I can say that I’ve learned mine and am thankful that God has loved me enough to continue nursing me back to health every time I decided to chew on poisoned grass. As the hair on my head grows greyer I hope that I will remember the lessons learned, grow in respect for the Teacher and be more trusting in His wisdom.