The eleven year old boy stared at the cat litter box with anger. It was not a fun job to clean it, and he wished once again that the cat had not used it and instead used his foster mother’s slippers instead.
He was sure that the cat would never consider something like that, but it was an idea he cherished whenever he was angry. He had even placed her slippers by the cat litter box a few times, hoping the cat would give them a try.
His foster mother ruled the home with a few rules, one being that each child performed a chore. He knew the rules well, having been in the home since he was four. When he joined the family he had only four siblings, two were her own, and two like him. Now the number had doubled and it made him angry. He was neither the youngest (as he had liked), or the middle child. He had nothing to distinguish himself with, for he wasn’t artistic or musical. He didn’t excel in school like his latest sister who was almost three years younger than him. The boy’s foster dad often said that he was funny, and that one day his wit would be a great help to him; but he didn’t care about that right now.
At many times he loved the idea that one day people where he worked would smile when they saw him, or ask him to tell them another joke after a hard day. He never really tried to be funny; sometimes the words just came out in a way that made others laugh. Now that he knew it was a good thing, he no longer bristled when people laughed at him. Although he didn’t actually speak out loud, he rehearsed stories and jokes over and over, smiling to himself. His favorite right now was the story of his mother putting on her slippers after the cat found them.
The litter box was bad today and made his eyes water as he used the scoop. Wiping his eyes, he decided that enough was enough. Maybe if he played a little joke and made his secret wish come true, they would get rid of the cat. He was good at playing innocent; he’d done it before many times. It was time for a new chore, he told himself. Besides, he had nothing to fear really. His mother had been forgiving in the past, even if she did figure out what he had done. She was always patient with him, even when he broke her things or was caught stealing something. He knew he was not the favorite, but he was confident of his position in the family.
He made up his mind to go ahead with the plan and looked around. No one was watching as he carefully scooped a dark present into her right slipper, not thinking to remove the cat litter. Once or twice he caught himself looking at the cat with a sense of guilt, for it was not a bad animal. He stroked the cat’s head and smiled when it purred happily. Maybe this was a bad decision. He could still find a way to save the poor animal. When his older sister walked by and cooed at the cat, it leapt from his arms. Immediately jealous, the boy decided the cat deserved punishment for treating him so rudely.
The boy came up with the idea to leave a small treat by the slippers so the cat would be seen near them. Later as he peeked around the corner, watching his mother retrieve her slippers from the washroom he found that he could not contain a little giggle. He waited, and then heard her exclaim. The cat was conveniently nearby, he noticed with a smile. He waited for an angry outburst, then decided it was best to back away while he could. She had not turned around, so he was confident she did not know he was watching. The boy heard the words very clearly as she turned. “Don’t you like living here?”
He looked up with enormous eyes.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on power and using few words to convey a powerful message.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
In Matthew 4:10 Jesus makes a quick and decisive response to Satan’s attempt to tempt Him. This to be the last straw, there was no more bearing through the attacks anymore; for Satan had gone too far. He dismisses the devil with a command and gives a reason that cannot be argued with. Patient and humble as Jesus has been through all of this, there is a flash of anger that I kind of like. Often Matthew as the author has tried to ensure we see Jesus is the promised king, and here he acts like I think a king should; decisive and strong, but without unnecessary use of power when a few words were enough.
Throughout the three years of Jesus’ public ministry, we do not see much religious activity. Surely He was raised to know the scriptures and knew them very well, enough to quote them and teach others from them as a boy of twelve. Yes he observed the feasts required of a good Jewish person. Does this equate to religious? Honestly I’m not sure, because it depends on your definition of religious. Many people, then and now have used religion and trampled all over it, making it a ‘cause’ or an ‘action’. The ability to justify horrendous actions with a smile or maintain hypocritical attitudes is one reason I think today many people love the idea of spiritual truth but not the idea of religion or submission to God.
Jesus doesn’t mince words or quote loving soft thoughts about God here, and He did not use empty religious words. Instead, he takes a decisively different tone to Satan while quoting words from the Old Testament/Talmud. He says that it is imperative that we not only recognize God alone is to be worshipped, but God alone is to be served. Hard words and something I do not pretend to be capable of. I know that when I worship God I am centered, I am the best of me that I can be. I like that person I am in worship more than I like the rest of me. Sometimes I let the religious action be enough and I don’t worship. I know that I want to, but many times I’m like a high centered tire, I spin around and around and get nowhere. Rather than give up because of this, I am more determined than ever to make worship a priority.
Note: Some may think this story harsh because the boy was just ‘impulsive’. Consider it as a way to demonstrate our situation with God, who is not obligated to adopt us but is more gracious than we deserve.