OceanSide church of Christ

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The Cat and the Stove
by: Dalton Gilreath

In Mark Twain’s book, Following the Equator, he references an incident that happened with his cat. Apparently she had climbed up on the oven and sat down on a hot stove lid. Describing this experience he wrote, “She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore”.

A negative experience can ruin the good outlook a person might have had in the past. Someone might enjoy a restaurant for years, but if one night they have an awful experience it might deter them from ever returning again. In life, this type of negative association causing us to avoid specific places or things is natural and sometimes harmless. However, when it comes to our spiritual responsibilities and experiences, we cannot let one negative situation cause us to turn away from doing the work of the Lord or turn away from Christianity altogether. For example, maybe you tried to convert someone who will no longer be your friend because you taught them things they didn’t like or agree with, and you no longer want to ever try to convert someone again. Or maybe an elder or a preacher made a decision that was wrong or even sinful (afterall, we are all human and can make mistakes), and you lost faith in the church altogether.

Paul went through more traumatic experiences in a few years than any of us will go through in a lifetime (2 Cor 11:24-28). Yet, he never once said, “This is too hard. I want nothing to do with this anymore.” Rather, he forgot about “those things which are behind” and pushed on to the “things which are before” (Phil 3:13). At times, it can be easier to give up and try to avoid another negative experience. Don’t be like Mark Twain’s cat and avoid every spiritual thing just because of one or even two or more negative experiences. As Christians, we cannot be quitters no matter the trial. As our Lord put it, “shake off the dust from your feet” and choose to get back to work (Matt 10:14).