I live in a city where people dress their dogs in better designers and pay nearly as much rent for them as they do for themselves. But with limited square feet and one year to go in law school, a puppy has been out of the question for the time being. Enter Beanie -- our cute-as-a-button black teddy bear hamster. Now… I know hamsters are typically children’s pets, but given that I have an 8 year-old step-daughter, I had a perfect excuse to bring this little muffin home. And I must say, she is as spoiled (if not more) than even the most primped and pampered pooch in my building. And… believe it or not… she is teaching me quite a bit about God… Let me explain…
It was not long before M and I realized that as cute as Beanie’s little pink house was, she was growing far too big for it. When she almost got caught in her tunnel (the first day we got her) we realized it would not be before long that we’d have to go bigger. So we went to Petco where M and I eyed the biggest hamster cage in the store appropriately called the “Rat Palace.” The salesman of whom I inquired, with no reservations asked me, “Isn’t that a little extravagant for a hamster?” I stood there blinking at him wondering how on earth he got his job. Nevertheless, one day after work M brought home a “house” (the palace) for Beanie that probably gives her a bigger ration of square feet for her size than we have. (Definitely does).
Beanie’s palace has three floors (not including the ground floor) and is equipped with hamster furniture of all sorts. (Yes, someone beat me to that idea). Beanie has a TV she can climb into, a couch she can kick back on, a lamp she can eat out of, a nest, and even a rocking chair, not to mention blocks with letters spelling out her name to chew on, two wheels and a log she can hide in, run through or eat, depending on her mood. Too extravagant for my Beanie? Never. So where does God come into all of this?
Well… When M and I set up Beanie’s palace I wondered if it would feel like Christmas morning when she opened her eyes and saw all this new space and fun toys. If a hamster could receive such a thing, this would probably be a huge blessing to her, right? If so, she took quite some time to realize it. First off, Beanie gnawed incessantly at the bars of her cage. Even if it was a "palace" it was still a prison to her, I guessed. Still it was such a giant step up from her pink house that we couldn't understand why she wasn't happier. Secondly, each floor has it’s own ladder for her to climb up and down to the different levels. But Beanie wanted absolutely no part of the ladders. We might as well have installed a diving board on each floor! Night after night, rather than take the stairs, Beanie preferred to nose-dive to the bottom of her cage with one large crash after another. And, glutton for punishment that she is, she climbed back up to try again each time, falling only harder still. This reminded me of why my stepdaughter initially wanted to name her Crash and why my husband initially preferred Pinball (you should see her in her ball thumping everywhere she goes...)
Day after day M and I wondered if she would get seriously hurt as we did all we could to teach Beanie to use the stairs. And I wondered… is this how God feels when he pours out blessings on his children only to see us do everything we can to avoid doing what He intends us to do with them? No matter how many times we put Beanie on the right path (her ladder) she insisted on doing things her own way rather than stay the course. And time after time, it only had negative consequences. I wondered how God’s frustration compared to the frustration we were feeling.
Fortunately, there is a happy ending to this story. Eventually Beanie realized that her ways were not as wise as what we had intended for her and she began to realize that the stairs of her ladder were a much safer and convenient alternative. Like humans, fallen as we are (pun definitely intended), it took learning the hard way for Beanie to wise up. Now, she could not be happier and we could not be more pleased.
And it made me wonder… what blessings has God poured out on me that I’m oblivious too? How often have I been ungrateful when God has done something huge in my life? Can you relate? I’m sure if we look hard enough, we’ll find what we’ve been looking for in one respect or another has been right before our eyes for some time… a better, safer way.
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9).