“Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” We’ve been to Ulverston to see Euan and Zach, hosted Aedan, Maayana and Callum and separately Ben; all have been well behaved, played constructively and quietly – and yielded no little stories for a magazine article! “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” We also visited Jake in Dundee, and he also was well behaved – and started to crawl, cruise and tried to walk while we were there. “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” In Jake’s case, I may have a possible article theme: I’m mulling it over… “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” Oh for goodness sake Sweep! Give over with that Yeowlling! Somewhere in Sweep’s ancestry is Siamese and over the last year, he has developed a very piercing “Yeeowl!” which he repeats five or six times. Sometimes he wants to be fed; sometimes he wants stroking; sometimes he just wants attention; sometimes it seems to be him announcing he’s arrived – and sometimes we can’t see why he’s making the noise at all.
Sweep is just short of 16. Depending on how you do the calculation, he’s between 74 and 112 in human terms. One visitor suggested he’s simply become a grumpy old man, and the “Yeeowl!” is a cross between ‘Oh my aching joints.’, ‘In my day…’ and ‘Doesn’t anyone around here care…’ What is certain is that the “Yeeowl!” is really penetrating: human babies have a cry which is designed to get your attention, a cry you just can’t ignore, a cry which demands action. You will have experienced that kind of cry and know you can’t concentrate or do anything until the child has had the required attention. When you’re responsible for the child, you must leave whatever you’re doing and go to them; if you’re not responsible for the child, you sit there thinking ‘Can’t someone do something with that child?’
Actually, while we were up with Jake, we experienced a little of that demanding cry – Jake was teething and so waking in the middle of the night with a cry that expected and received attention, leaving both poor Emma and Carl sleep deprived. The night after we left, they steeled themselves and left Jake to cry, monitoring him but not running to him; after 35 minutes he let go and descended into a deep sleep, waking at 7am the next day in a happy mood – Oh the joys of parenting! Anyway, Sweep’s “Yeeowl!” is as penetrating as any baby’s cry and elicits the same range of responses.
And what of God? Does he sit there like a distracted parent, immune to our pleas? Has he developed selective hearing? Do we need to develop a persistent and penetrating “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” for him to hear us? Jesus addressed the question with a parabolic question: “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? (The Bible, Luke 11.5-7) After painting the picture of an otherwise sympathetic friend unwilling to respond because it was too much trouble, Jesus goes on to show that the persistent crying of the man in need dragged the friend from his bed to attend to the need, a kind of “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” response: “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” (Luke 11.8) But our heavenly Father is not like this. He does not need “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” to draw his attention to our need; instead: “ And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11.9-10)
Like a parent whose caring response may not necessarily be the one the child demanded but none the less had heard their child in love, so God hears us in love and delights to respond, giving us what we need – which may not be the same as that for which we asked! The problem with the baby’s cry or the cat’s “Yeeowl! Yeeowl!” is that neither pauses to listen. They are so busy trying to get the attention and response they have predetermined that they miss the warm and loving response that even preceded their cry for help and attention – the parent was already monitoring the child, the cat was already fed – and we are so busy telling God he’s not listening, that we fail to hear and receive his prior loving response.
Praying that you may hear the loving response of God in Christ before you have even framed the question and know that in all your tribulations, you are held in his arms of love.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,
You can find the full text of the July Herald Magazine here