“When my father and mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
I was 19, newly born again. I loved my family so much, I immediately wrote to share the good news with them. I copied out Bible passages to explain what had happened to me, because the Bible expressed what I was experiencing so much better than I could. Instead of ending life I had found it. God had met me at the point of suicide and allowed me to start over with Him. I urged them to come to Jesus, too.
My intellectual brothers wrote back, telling me (disdainfully, I thought) to keep an open mind. My father dismissed my words with, “I could have been a good father to you if you hadn’t chosen God for your Father.”
I took the train from International Christian University in Tokyo (which was really not Christian at all, but Marxist) home to Hiroshima, where my beloved mother–by this time my best friend–was still living on our family boat, Phoenix. I tried to tell her about Jesus and pray with her. She stopped me abruptly by standing up and saying coldly that she had read the Bible. She walked up the companionway and disappeared. I was trying to learn to stay within earshot of the Lord minute by minute. So I kept sitting on the couch, waiting to see if she would come back, searching my heart to see what I had done wrong. She didn’t.
Mum was getting ready to go on a big world tour with 25 survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I had told them I wouldn’t be going with them as an interpreter after all because God wasn’t in this trip. I didn’t mean to be arrogant or critical. I just sensed that was what I was supposed to tell them. Mum was upset with me and a still, small voice counseled me to be submissive to her in loving little ways. So I tried to help her get ready for the trip by mending her stockings.
But our relationship was strained and I don’t like having people mad at me, never have. So one evening I slipped out of the house where the preparations for the trip had everything in turmoil. I wandered the tidy Japanese neighborhood, down narrow paths between high walls with irrigation ditches running along them, and I prayed. I searched my heart to see if I needed to apologize for anything, trying to find my way back to that place of peace which had become the norm for me.
My prayers were very child-like and naive back then. I had walked a long time and it was getting chilly and dark. I realized I had no idea where I was but I wasn’t ready to go back anyway. I needed comfort. So I started praying for a cat, a cat I could hold. There is nothing more comforting for a wounded heart than an armful of soft cat.
A lean, nervous cat appeared in my path almost right away. My heart soared and I darted eagerly toward it, only to have it scuttle away around the corner. I felt more lonely than ever.
“Just a cat,” I told God, puzzled. “I know that’s not too much to ask You for.”
I stumbled around more corners and down more lanes, tears falling. And suddenly there it was, leaping from inside someone’s garden to the top of the nearest wall. It was not only clean and petite, a pretty calico, my favorite make of cat, but it was already kneading and purring in greeting.
I reached out and lifted the cat into my arms and held it to me, my tears now tears of gratitude. The Lord knew me and He had heard me. He loved me. This small gift was such personal evidence of that.
When at last the cat leaped gently down and trotted around the corner. I followed it. And there, right in front of me, was the house I had misplaced.
From my book The Dog Who Ate Tacos and Other Animal Stories