It was the perfect rescue story. We found a stray cat nearby, looking dirty, hungry, scared, and overall pretty pathetic. We didn’t want to commit to another indoor cat, but we figured she could be an outdoor cat if she so chose. So we took her home, fed her, brushed the burrs out of her fur, and the kids gave her lots of love. They made a little bed for her inside a box, and she curled up in it rather cozily to spend the night. The next morning we couldn’t find her right away, so the kids went looking for her. They found her in a hole the dogs had dug in the backyard. This hole goes underneath the patio, and the dogs slide under there to stay cool in the hot Texas sun. We tried coaxing the cat out, to no avail. We bribed her with food. Nothing. So my oldest son volunteered to slither down as far as he could to reach her. I had visions of him pulling her to safety while she purred gratefully, glad to have been rescued. Only it didn’t work out that way at all.

The cat resisted our attempts at rescue, and we were running out of time and ideas. The dogs had been in their kennel all night, and needed to get out. So we had the bright idea to let them out, thinking they’d scare her out of the hole. Turned out, that was a mistake. Our bigger dog cornered her in that dark hole, and all we could hear was growling and hissing. At length, the cat managed somehow to slide around the dog and run out, but the dog was fast too. He pounced on her and what ensued was a dog/cat fight I hope never to witness again. I thought the dog was going to rip the cat to pieces. He had her pinned on her back as he snarled and bared his teeth and tried to bite her, and she was hissing and taking swipes at him with her claws. My younger kids were screaming and crying, and there was a lot of shouting going on in our backyard. I managed to grab the dog and allow the cat to escape, but she only ran to the other end of the yard, rather than over the fence, so the dog wriggled out of my grasp and caught her again. This was getting ridiculous. After a struggle, I grabbed the dog again, and my oldest son wrestled the cat out of its grasp and quite literally threw it over the fence to safety at last.

The thing is that the cat brought it upon herself. Had she stayed in the safety of the box we provided for her, she never would have encountered the dog. Had she taken the first opportunity to run away from the dog, she wouldn’t have been attacked by it again. We rescued her, but she insisted on facing her opponent on her own. Clearly, this cat isn’t very smart.

Yet we have a lot in common with that cat. We were lost, and God found us. He brought us into His family and fed us, washed us, and loved us. He stooped to our level, coming down to this earth to “get dirty” so He could rescue us. Jesus knew we couldn’t get to Him, so He came to us. Yet how often, even after such a beautiful rescue, do we still insist upon going our own way or handling our problems by ourselves? How often do we think we can face the enemy with our own power? How often do we dare to presume that we don’t need church or the Lord’s Supper or Bible study or prayer? Yet these are the very means God gives us to strengthen us with His power. Ephesians 6:10 tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” Paul goes on to list the weapons at our disposal—the armor of God. Of course we aren’t strong enough to face the devil on our own. But we don’t have to. Jesus has already defeated him for us.

Our stray cat continues to get into trouble. The same day of the episode with the dog, she got herself stuck in a tree and needed rescue again. She’s run off multiple times, risking a run-in with the feral cats in the neighborhood. But my kids aren’t giving up on her. Even though the cat hasn’t shown them any love or gratitude, they love her and seek her out every time she runs off. God does the same for us. Like the shepherd seeking for the one lost sheep, like the woman looking for her one lost coin, and like the father, anxious to welcome back his prodigal son, so God searches us out when we wander, His love for us never wavering.

It’s a perfect rescue story.

It’s your rescue story.