This morning I was awakened a few minutes after 4:00 by a knocking/banging noise. It took me only a moment to know what the noise was–it was our cat, Raindrop, trying to open the door of the half bath attached to our bedroom. This half bath has a pocket door that connects to the laundry area, which then connects to the landing of the stairs that go down to the basement. Since the pocket door does not close tightly and has some “wiggle room” on its track, Raindrop can push on it with her paws and create a knocking/banging noise, but she cannot open it. She is typically known to do this on Saturday mornings when she thinks we have stayed in bed too late for her liking (and thus delayed her breakfast). We close all of the bedroom doors at night so that Raindrop cannot get into the rooms, but she has free reign of the house otherwise. But I had never known her to do it in the middle of the night.
So, once I realized what the noise was I also sensed that my wife was awake. I said, “Is that the cat?” And she replied, “Yes, and she’s been at it for a while.” Now, my wife is usually a lighter sleeper than I am. I think God gives mothers the ability to hear little noises in the night so that they can hear their children. So she had obviously heard this noise before I had, and I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was irritated by it, but apparently she had not been irritated enough to wake me up to deal with it or to get out of bed and tell the cat to knock it off. But, when snapping my fingers was not enough to make the cat stopped I decided to get up and shoo her on her way. From my side of the bed it is a matter of two steps into the bathroom. So I stepped in and turned the light on. Imagine my surprise when I then saw that the cat was in the bathroom, and she was banging on the door to try to get out. She must have been under our bed (one of her favorite hideouts) when we closed the bedroom door.
I quickly slid the door open, and she promptly ran out. I then decided to use the bathroom myself. I suddenly found myself laughing out loud at the irony of a cat trying her best to get out of a bathroom…so that, in all likelihood, she could go to the bathroom! Here she was inches away from a toilet putting all of her effort into getting out so she could go use a litter box. Now, our cat is not trained to use a toilet, so that obviously was not really an option for her, but it got me to thinking. How often do we try and try and try to get to something we think we want when a much better option is right there? (Seriously, this is how my mind works at four in the morning). Allow me a bit of literary license here and think about this with me: haven’t you ever put all of your effort into trying to open a door–which you have no hope of opening–just to get to an inferior goal to one that may well be much closer at hand but “off of your radar”? I wonder how many times God looks down at us and laughs, thinking (figuratively, of course), “There’s a toilet right there! Forget the litter box!”
There is another application, too. The cat, based on my wife’s report, had been trying for quite some time to get that door to open, even though considerable past experience should have taught her that she would not be able to get it open no matter how hard or long she tried. Yet the person who could open the door–in this case, me–was only a few feet away. The door from the bathroom into the bedroom was not closed–and the cat had to have known that, since she had to have gone through it to get into the bathroom (because I know she was not in the bathroom when I brushed my teeth before going to bed). Had she simply gone back through the door and jumped on the bed she likely would have woken me up. Or she could have meowed. Either way, once I had known she was in the bedroom I would promptly have gotten out of bed to put her out the door. But no, she persisted in trying to do it on her own, stopping only once I entered the bathroom after the noise she was making woke me up. And I think we are often like that, too. We continue to try to solve things on our own or do things our way, even when past experience should have taught us that it was not likely to work, when the One who could open all the doors and knows the answer to all of the problems is close by, just waiting for us to ask Him for help and direction.
So, next time you have a problem that needs solving, just remember my cat stuck in the bathroom…and maybe laugh to yourself before stopping to ask God for help.