I’ve written about Dexter my “grand-cat” before. How he was rescued from the streets of Chicago and adopted by my daughter and her husband. How their patience and love transformed him from an aggressive, nearly-wild cat that couldn’t get along with any of the other cats in the Red Door Animal Shelter, into a much-loved family member. I’ve written about some of his quirks—how he likes to play kitty video games, and how he turned a worn-out, discarded shoelace into his favorite toy. Dexter has taught me some very important life-lessons.
Now a new chapter is being written in Dexter’s life—and in mine—as we’ve welcomed a brand new baby into our family. I think we all wondered how this rambunctious cat would adapt to a newborn in “his” territory, vying for his owners’ attention. We needn’t have worried. Even before the baby was born, Dexter seemed curious about the changes taking place. As new items like this tiny outdoor chair arrived, Dexter was the first to try them out.
He carefully inspected each box and bag that was delivered.
He road-tested the stroller for safety.
And now the baby herself is here, and Dexter is her staunchest guardian. He’s careful to stay an appropriate distance away from her, yet he sits close enough to stand watch over her. He sleeps on the shelf beneath her bassinet while she sleeps, and lays beneath her swing when she’s in it. He stands near the door to safeguard her when she’s in her car seat. It’s clear that he stands ready to protect her from harm.
I bought my new granddaughter a stuffed toy that resembles a little tree trunk with burrow-holes all around it and stuffed animals inside—a raccoon, a bear, a squirrel, a fox, a yellow bird. She’s too young to play with it, but Dexter isn’t. He has figured out how to pull out all the animals, and he brings them to her, piling them beneath her bassinet or carrying them into the room where she is. Sometimes he drags the entire toy to her side, especially if she’s crying.
This tender, protective side of Dexter has shown me, once again, the power of redeeming love. This once-unlovable cat has not only been transformed into a wonderful pet, but he now returns that love, showing affection to this newest family member who isn’t able to show it in return.
What would happen, I wonder, if I demonstrated redemptive love to all the seemingly unlovable people I know? Might they be transformed as Dexter has been? Would they also learn to love others in return? Jesus seems to think it’s a risk I should be taking: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48).
If he could talk, I think Dexter would agree that Jesus’ commandment is worth obeying.
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway on my last blog and congrats to the winner Sarah C! I hope you enjoy the series!