We got Oliver right after our son Dawson was born in 1995. Donna came up with the name because our oldest son loved the movie “Oliver & Company.” Initially we thought he would be an inside cat, so we had his front claws removed. It quickly became apparent that Oliver was not the type of cat to be contained inside a house, so he began ruling his outside realm. Oliver has been bitten by snakes, wounded on many occasions, has had a hole in his head twice, survived the move from Arkansas to Texas, and has kept going and going. He is a beast. We’ve seen him dominate dogs 5 times his size, kill rats, rabbits, birds, and there isn’t another cat that could even think about taking him out. All of that with no front claws!! Like I said, He’s a beast!
Every time Oliver became wounded, had a hole in his head, or was sick, he would always come to the house and we would treat his wounds with peroxide, triple antibiotic ointment, and nurture him back to health. He would bounce back and begin his reign over the neighborhood once again.
Over the past week we noticed that Oliver was getting very skinny. We tried to feed him, but he wasn’t able to eat very well. We began to wonder if this was Oliver’s time and even thought the humane thing might be to “put him down.” By all outside appearances, it seemed like old age had finally caught up with him. I told him, “Oliver, dude, you’ve been an amazing cat. You can go on & rest.” I even shed a tear or two as we reminisced laying on the driveway as we had done so many times in the past. He’s been with us for almost 2 decades for crying out loud! Don’t judge my tears…
One afternoon, after I had noticed a strange spot on his side, I took some soap and water to clean the area. When I began to clean & put pressure on the spot puss began to pour out of his side, and there were two large bite marks on his side. One of them was a gaping hole. I’ll spare you the details, but it was extremely gross. I began the process we have done many times before; I took the peroxide bottle and began squirting it into the holes, and once it quit bubbling put some antibiotic ointment on the wound. I repeated that process several times that evening, and have continued it for the last few days. He’s eating soft food, drinking water, and seems to somehow be recovering. We will have to just wait and see what happens…I’ll try to keep you informed. Like I said…He’s a beast.
What if I had never taken the time to notice the hidden wound? Oliver would have died for sure. On the outside, it seemed like old age had finally got the best of him, but the real problem was hidden and horribly infected. He was trying to tell me the problem. He had come home, was lying around, but I just didn’t take the time to pull back the fur on the outside, so I could see the root cause of the issue.
I can relate to Oliver. On the surface of my life things have seemed so good. In fact, they were great. I have experienced a great life with a beautiful wife and amazing children, ministry with students and families that I grew to love and care for deeply, and I have been blessed to experience some amazing things. But I wasn’t experiencing the best. In the midst of all the blessings and good things going on around me, I had a deep wound that kept me from experiencing God’s best for my life. It was festering deep in my soul. The Spirit showed me that the root of that wound was FEAR. I feared failure. I feared being abandoned. I feared rejection. I feared loss. I even projected my fear into the lives of others and had fearful thoughts of horrible things happening to those that I loved. I found myself battling fear from the time my feet hit the floor in the morning, until I laid my head back down in the evening. I was exhausted.
Out of my deep wound oozed wrong decisions, bad choices, negative thoughts, paranoia, jealousy, envy, anger, confusion, indecisiveness, lack, and pain that ultimately impacted not only me, but the ones around me that I loved the most. I was like Oliver crying out for help, but I was seeking help from the wrong sources. I thought that affirmation, love, acceptance, words of praise, & attempting to please everyone around would somehow heal the pain. All that did was lead to more frustration and confusion in my life and theirs. You see, Oliver knew something that I also knew in my Spirit but had yet to fully apply. He knew that if he came back to our home in Forney, at some point we would find what was causing him pain and take care of it. That’s why he laid around the house for a week crying out. He knew healing was found in the people that had taken ownership of him17 years ago, so that’s where he came as he had done so many times before.
That’s where I want to be today. At the feet of the one who bought &paid for me on a cross so many years ago. I must lie down before the one who had a plan to heal & redeem all the festering wounds of my soul before the foundation of the world. In Him, and in Him alone, will I find healing. It’s not found in anyone else. Even the ones I love the most. They can’t “fix me.” They can’t meet the deepest needs of my soul. Healing is not in a church, or religion, or books. And while these things can be vehicles to guide us to truth, they are NOT the source of truth. The sad reality is that many of us have been in church every Sunday and read a book every night, but the festering & oozing continued because we didn’t come to the source and allow Him to heal what only He can. We didn’t really believe that He was near us, IN US. So we go through another Dave Ramsey or Beth Moore study, and we volunteer for more stuff at the church, and we get our kids involved in more religious activities, and we go to Christian concerts, and listen to worship music, and pray before every meal (even in public). We hope & pray that the pain & emptiness will disappear, but we fail to realize that it will never change until we finally lay down, alone, before the one who bought us and from our weak dry mouths let out a faint cry of “help.” Then at that moment, when all other voices & opinions have been silenced, we can allow the Spirit of the Living God to pour His Word & presence into the festering places of our soul & we will be healed.
“But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, ‘Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!’ Yes, you came when I called you told me, ‘Do not fear.’” (Lamentations 3:55-57)