What Can Never Be Food: A Lesson From the Cat

This morning, once again, I find that Merlin has brought his toy mouse and placed it in his food bowl. It’s adorable, but it also, at least this morning, feels desperate and sad.


Why does he do this? Does he wish for it to be food? Does he dream and wonder if it will magically turn into the mouse he once caught on a summer day long ago?

His wanting this fake mouse to turn into the delicious food he enjoys doesn’t make anything happen. It will never be food. It will never satisfy. Still, he drags the mouse from wherever it’s been to the food bowl. It does make me laugh.

But I also think about all the things I drag into my life that I imagine will feed my soul. I think about what brings true peace, true safety, true prosperity. I think about all the things I add to my hopes and dreams and desires; if I just add them into the mix of salvation and connection and Jesus, will they come about and feed my deepest longings?

Of all things I might consider on this day, I remember Isaiah 44:20. I think of the one who “feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself.” But then, God tells us that He redeems! He’s the true food for our souls–the bread of life (John 6:35) we’ve needed all along. God says, “You will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”

Meanwhile, I continue to lead Merlin to food that will satisfy: the treats, the canned wet food just on Saturday, the crunchy daily food, and the fresh, cool water. I will keep filling the bowl, and maybe someday soon, he’ll know the toy mouse won’t feed him and cannot ever.



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