I’m on day two of five days without my family. My wife and kids have headed out of town for a ski vacation while I’m stuck at the homestead taking care of the cattle. Actually, we don’t own any cattle, but we do have two cats, two mice, a turtle and possibly two goldfish. The possibility of the goldfish is diminishing.
Of all the animals in our pet preserve, the cats are the most difficult. Nemo and Lolly have a love/hate relationship. Nemo loves Lolly and Lolly hates Nemo. Unfortunately, Nemo’s love is persistent, unwavering and seemingly unconditional. No matter how many times Lolly rejects Nemo’s advances with a scratch, growl or hiss, Nemo still persists.
Nemo is either an extremely patient or clueless suitor. Regardless, we reward his perseverance by perpetually showing him the door. Consequently, Nemo is an indoor, outdoor, indoor, outdoor, indoor, outdoor, indoor, outdoor cat. Sometimes he’s just an outdoor, outdoor, outdoor cat. And when I say sometimes, I mean probably tomorrow.
One thing is for certain, every living thing in this house will welcome the return of my wife. When Jennifer’s gone, even the cacti get nervous. It’s not that I’m mean to the animals, I’m just not a very good Noah.
If God had given me Noah’s assignment, I would have rejected the offer for the sake of the species. I’m not your best choice for animal tending. However, I don’t think I would have even heard the whole, “I want you to build an ark for the animals,” part of God’s initial assignment. I would have been stuck on the phrase, “I want you to build … ”
God could have told me to build a small deck or a bird house and the assignment would still have filled me with foreboding doom. My family would have received the news with the same wary skepticism.
I can hear my daughter Kysa’s tactical response, “God wants you to build something to save our family and a bunch of animals? Are you sure He said build? Maybe God just wants you to oversee the building of an ark or to be part of a much larger boat building team. … Well, at least you should have God ask Uncle Jeff to help you.”
Spending a week by myself reminds me of how limited I am in my skill set. For the most part, I’m a one trick pony. As a writer, pastor, evangelist and talk show host, I spend most of my time communicating or thinking about communicating. When my wife is gone, I realize how much she supports my communicating endeavors.
While I’m deep in thought, she’s literally ordering the world around me. While I’m proclaiming truth from the mountaintop, she’s establishing peace in the valley. From organizing our schedules, to organizing our house, to organizing our life, Jennifer makes the vessel sea worthy.
But she does far more than manage, she shines. She demonstrates an unconditional acceptance of and grace upon my limitations. She works hard to makes the equation of our life together equal joy, peace and love. When she is gone, I am confronted by the unavoidable conclusion that God has made the two of us one.
I know each of us must find a way to be content when we are alone. However, I’m not ashamed to say that I miss my family this week. Without them near me, I feel incomplete and undone. I miss them greatly, and I look forward to their safe return. So do the cats, the turtle, the mice, and the possible goldfish.
“Live from Seattle with Doug Bursch” can be heard 4-6 p.m. weekdays on KGNW 820 AM. Doug Bursch also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at 2407 M St. SE next to Pioneer Elementary School. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.