Calvin is gone. He’s been missing for 6 weeks now, and even by his standards of wandering I don’t think he’s coming back. So I decided to put together my own Memorial TULIP for him. You see, I think I’ve learned more from my cat Calvin than the theologian Calvin. No disrespect intended, but that’s just the way it is.
The original Calvin’s TULIP is as follows:
T = Total Depravity. All of mankind is totally affected by sin to the core of our being.
U = Unconditional Election. God pulls us out of the mud with no will or work of our own involved.
L = Limited Atonement. The death of Christ was only for those chosen by God to be saved.
I = Irresistible Grace. The chosen will not resist when God pulls them out of the fire.
P = Perseverance of the Saints. The chosen will become progressively holier and will never be unchosen.
Well, here is my new TULIP:
T = Tearing Out the Matt. Calvin would get these intricately woven matts (or furballs) growing almost into his skin. To get them out I would have to hold him down and pull. He hated it and would scratch and claw at me when I pulled at them. I learned to get them early and often, or else the pain was intolerable for both of us. The longer they were left there, the less I could tell where Calvin ended and the furball began. It’s like that with the things in our lives that we don’t deal with right away. Eventually they grow into us until it looks as if they are a part of us and they’re very difficult to remove. Holiness requires constant cleansing. I’m reminded to get up every morning and pour His Word upon me and His Spirit through me. I can’t allow any of these thoughts to grow into me.
U = Unless You Become Like a Child . . . Once in awhile Calvin would revert back to his kitten days – playful and fun. (Most of the time he was a bit surly – like the rest of us.) I think we all could learn a lesson from this. No one likes the angry and mean Christian. Once in awhile we need to get back to our child-like simplicity and love and hope. Where we forgive immediately and don’t hold grudges. Where we could be arguing one minute, but still best friends the next. The angry and mean cat would never cause a non-cat person to desire to get a cat. The angry and mean Christian will never cause a non-believer to say, “Hey, I want that.” Our lives should be marked with child-like faith and joy.
L = Love Me! I’ll never forget when we got another kitten a few years ago. Calvin must have felt threatened, because suddenly mice and other animals (dead) started showing up at my backdoor, laid out like a sacrifice. It was as if he wanted to remind me that he was still around and wanted to prove his worth or something. It was very strange. But we do that – we think we have to prove our worth to God with our sacrifices and works (certainly not bad things), when in reality God desires brokenness and repentance and emptiness. Concepts my Calvin never quite grasped! He was never sorry for anything.
I = Inside/Outside. Calvin was mean inside the house. He never would let me play or pet him (I know, you’re wondering why I loved him so much. But we always love our own, no matter what.) But outside, he would roll around in the grass, climb all over you when you sat down, play with you, etc. I thought this was odd until I realized we do the same thing. We’re funny, kind, playful to people outside our house, then we get in and act like monsters to the ones we love the most. Husbands – this should not be. Inside the house, with your wife and kids, we should be the same way we are to the people in your work and neighborhood. Even better. Sometimes we’re nicer to a person we just met on the street than we are to the ones that are in our own homes!!! Ministry begins inside, not outside. Otherwise we’re just hypocrites.
P = Please, Just Come Home! When all is said and done, I just want Calvin to come back home. In dealing with families with broken relationships and kids that have gone astray, I realize that this is their sentiment as well. They just want the prodigal to come home. It breaks my heart on a daily basis, but it’s the best ministry to be in. The ministry that brings these kids home, that brings healing to these families. The ministry of Nain, restoring a dead child to their mother.
So, after all this typing, I’m going to go out into my backyard one more time, and see if Calvin is walking through that back garden. If not – maybe I’ll plant a TULIP in his memory. Because he sure has taught me a lot of valuable lessons.