He saw me from around the corner. Actually, I think he smelled me first, because hidden in my only pants pocket was a fistful of leftover chicken chunks. To him, the “clinic cat”, I was now a walking party.
Because we are not allowed to feed any animal on the yard, we try to find creative ways to “accidentally” drop food around. My pocket was locked and loaded, ready to drop its mound of deliciousness. The cat crouched warily in front of me, waiting for the drop.
I walked steadily forward, with my hand inside my pocket, withdrawing it slowly, pushing out a delectable morsel with each step. The clinic cat patiently licked his lips in anticipation, waiting until he decided I was far enough away. He then devoured the trail of chicken. On my way back to the clinic the cat looked up and gave me a lazy meow. I took that as cat language for a well-fed and satisfied “Thanks.”
This prison does not permit us to directly feed the cats. It creates a number of issues when we do, first being the return rate for cats who are fed. I’m far from learning all the Jewish-Hebrew customs, but when I feed the clinic cat I can’t help but think about the scapegoat of Yom Kippur. I don’t fully understand the role of the scapegoat, but one thing I know for sure: when the sins of Israel were symbolically placed on the scapegoat so he could be released, he didn’t have a full tummy. A scapegoat that returned was not a good thing.
In Yeshua (Jesus) all our sins were taken from us and cast as far as the east is from the west. In other words, they are gone, not to be seen any longer, and not welcomed back.
What a beautiful truth.
Yet just like I continue to feed the clinic cat, even though I shouldn’t, at times I feed my old sin. A situation or trial brings me back to a past sin in my life. I then feed the sin by dwelling on all the cold and darkness it had once caused.
Guilt. Shame. Hurt. All arrive in full force, making that sin real once again. As it returns, it robs me of my joy in Christ, knowing that sin is gone, nailed to the cross.
Praise be to God! He has placed mature and honest mentors in my life. The minute they detect that something is not right, even seeing trouble in my eyes, words of Godly wisdom flow from them. It is through those wise words, always accompanied by the Word of God, that I remember to stop feeding my past sins. Those sins no longer belong to me. They are gone. Dead.
It is then that I starve my false feelings, and embrace the joy and peace that only God’s truth provides, freeing myself to thrive in His grace and the new life He has given me.
Not feeding the scapegoat was common sense to the Jews, and so it should be with our past sins. I know I can fall into this fatal cycle of feeding the sin, dwelling in the sin, and then despair, and I know I’m not alone. It’s become normal in our churches today. Instead of studying the Bible, we come together for sin-feeding banquets, and call it “Biblical Counseling.” It is deadly.
Let’s stop feeding the old sin. Stop feeding the scapegoat. Instead, let’s move forward and grow in our God-given freedom, forgiveness, and grace.
….washing the chicken-smell out of my pocket…
Adrian G. Torres