One cool fall Sunday evening I was walking my dog, Jubilee, through our back-yard. As we walked in the multi-color beauty of fall in Northern Michigan our walk was interrupted by the very distressed meows of our cat, Chewy.
Chewy had come home from our local humane society only the year before. He was a tiny, fluffy gray fur-ball. My daughter had conned me into a visit to our wonderful Cherryland Humane Society. She said she just wanted to see the dogs and cats. I agreed to the idea, proving that I’m an easy con.
The tiny gray fluff ball grew into a large wild, hairy, crazy cat. His fangs’s seem extra large and hang out over the side of his mouth. Despite his rough exterior and haughty cat spirit the somewhat domesticated feline is deeply loved by my daughter.
My dog and I discovered that the family cat had been treed in a large Maple tree on a hill-side in the backyard. I told the cat to come down! He told me “No Way!” and added “come up and get me.”
Cats have bad attitudes but under stress their complete lack of character is revealed. It was about 60 feet up on a branchless maple and I was hopeless to come anywhere close to the terrorized beast.
I went inside and told my wife and daughter that Chewy was in a tree. They both seemed to think that this was fine and that the tree climber would climb down. I was not so sure about that answer. So Chewy spent Sunday night sixty feet up in a tree.
All day on Monday the anxious pet called for “HELP!” and I waited for it to come down. I put out food under the tree. The food was gone but the animal was still in the tree.
My wife and I left for a small group in the late afternoon as my daughter drove home from school. We were gone as she arrived home and she could hear her precious cat yelling for help in the backyard. She knew he was in a tree but did not understand how high in the tree the beast was located.
She emotionally melted down. She called on the cell-phone and expressed her panic in a voice so loud the whole small group could join into the conversation.
Our family has been under a lot of stress lately. My wife’s beloved Grandma was placed under hospice care. Money stress has caused us to live from pay-check to pay-check. I have four vehicles that have over 150,000 miles and take turns breaking down. I had a two car collision in my drive-way. My father-in-law struggles with lung cancer. We seem to live the “what’s next?” life. Well the cat was the emotional what’s next in my daughter’s life.
She expressed what everyone was thinking, “Why is God doing this to us!!?”
I was helpless to solve even the little problem which was getting the cat out of the tree. So Chewy spent Monday in the tree. That night it rained and I was sleepless over the issue.
Tuesday morning came and I decided to ask for “HELP!” Do you know that firemen do not get cats out of trees? I called tree climbers and asked for help they could not help because they are not insured for cats. I called all my bow-hunting friends. Well they were all out hunting in the fall and each one suggested the same answer. They told me I could borrow their 22 and shoot the cat out of the tree. Such a very funny and original pack of camo dressed comedians.
So I prayed for help! I declared that God was going to need to send help! I arose from my maple prayer tree to see my elderly neighbor in his front-yard. I went and asked him if he had a big ladder? The old guy said “Yes.” He took me to his barn and allowed me to borrow a giant extension ladder.
A friend helped me haul the huge metal ladder to the tree. Now we could get about 40 feet up the tree. I still felt helpless!
About five years before the cat adventure I had an awful motorcycle accident which left both my hands very broken and weak. As a young man I taught rock climbing, helped as an instructor on high rope courses and climbed many difficult cliffs and mountains. Now I could only stare into the face of my losses.
The climber arrived in the form of a friend. Last winter Scott had a snowmobile accident that broke his back. He was much better now but you could not convince his wife that climbing a ladder and a tree to get a cat was a good idea. However, she was not at the house. What happens in the woods stays in the woods.
He climbed right up the ladder and reached up in the branches and pulled himself into the branches. He then reached up and grabbed the upset extra large kitty. He placed the cat in his work jacket and climbed down to the ladder. It was a great! The guy with the busted hands was holding the ladder for the guy recovering from the broken back.
The cat climbed out from underneath his jacket and held onto his leg as he climbed down the ladder. Ouch! I pulled the cat from his leg and took it inside.
Chewy ran to his litter-box and relaxed. Next time he is in a tree I’m putting the litter box at the base of the maple.
My daughter arrived home to find her beloved cat safety inside the house. That night we talked about how God is still there, despite the difficult problems in our lives.
Our verse was Zechariah 9:12, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.”
We needed to go back to our fortress; our God and comfort in times of distress. We needed to stop being a prisoner of problems, disease, sickness and our circumstances. Since God is our fortress we can only be a fortress of hope.
The cat is healthy and fine. A few days after the successful rescue we had some wild coyotes playing outside our bedroom window. We understand why he climbed so high!
The challenges are still great and difficult but God’s presence as our fortress is very evident.