There is no rhyme or reason to when or why my cat wants to get in my lap.
When it happens, she grabs the arm of my desk chair with both paws, hauls herself up to a standing position, and mews pitifully at me until I scoop her up and drop her in my lap. If I don’t scoop her up, she meows indefinitely until she jumps up herself, stabbing me in the thigh with a claw in the process.
Sometimes she stays for five minutes before I do something to dissatisfy her and she stalks off. Sometimes she stays until my legs fall asleep. Sometimes she plays with her own tail or cleans her paw. Sometimes she sleeps or kneads my pants leg.
Either way, the intention is clear: at that moment, for whatever reason, she wants to be with me. Even more clear? At that moment, for whatever reason, she wants me to be with her.
If I try to type or play a video game, she stretches out both her front paws across my arms and rests her head on them, effectively hindering my typing. If I pick up my phone or try to take a picture, her tail starts whipping around – dangerously close to my face. What she wants, it seems, is idyllic communion for as long as it pleases her.
This does not work for me.
I tolerate her presence until I feel pins and needles in my feet. I move her paws so I can keep on typing. I push her tail down when it pops up in my face to warn me I’m being too active. Mostly, I go about the business of trying to live my life as best I can around the furry little bundle in my lap. I love my cat, but I won’t put the brakes on my day just to tend to her every whim and wish.
Which is why I marvel perpetually at God and His endless, endless patience for our shenanigans. He doesn’t tire of us regardless of how much we stand at the throne perpetually screaming and bleating for attention and then chastising Him for giving it in what – to us – seems to be the wrong way. He doesn’t send us away no matter how many questions we have (a lot), how much dissatisfaction we have to register (a lot), or how much we complain (also a lot). He not only tolerates our presence, but actively solicits it, even as He goes about the business of being God.
Do you ever think of that? Do you ever think, honestly, of how profoundly annoying we must at times be? How needy? How clinging? How impatient and demanding? How arbitrary? And yet God is not only always there but promises to always be there, regardless of everything that we can possibly do. More than that – He desires to be there!
God’s desire to love us is boundless. And His love is not a distant, stern, emotionless act. He is pleased to be present for us, and pleased we when choose to be present with Him. Psalm 121:4 says that the God who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. If you’ve ever seen or been the weary parent of a newborn at night, you can see a bit of that love: the gaze down into the cradle, the determination to stay awake, the ears listening always for cries and whimpers and sounds, the nurturing embrace. But even the best and most loving parents succumb to exhaustion. Even the best and most loving parents hit a point when enough is enough and love only goes so far.
And I think of that, when my cat jumps up into my lap and my impatience and my selfishness surface and I determine to work around her. I think of that when I cut phone calls short or keep my eyes to the ground so that particular co-worker doesn’t single me out for small talk. I think of it when doing the loving thing seems like more trouble than it’s honestly worth. I think of it when I am tempted to deliver my loving presence only to those who seem in the moment actively worth loving.
But God is so much more. He is there to hear all our arbitrary wants and needs. He will gladly listen to your endless list of worries and concerns. He is there when you complain (at Him) and you roll your eyes (at Him) and you lose a little bit of hope (in Him). He is there when you’re miserable and making others miserable; He is there when you’re excited and telling the good news to everyone but Him (because even though He knows, He likes to hear it from you).
He is there. He is there. He is there. And he never, ever tires of it or grows impatient of it. He is there, and He has always been there, and He will always be there. For you.
So let Him be there. And embrace the comfort of that constant presence.