Mandy watched the last leaf of the maple tree flutter to the ground. The land lay bleak and barren, with no sign of life anywhere. Even the birds had taken shelter in the warmth of the woods that lined the bottom of the hill across the meadow below Mandy’s house. That meant the birdfeeder was empty, but Mandy did not feel like going out into the cold to fill the tray up with sunflower seeds. She heaved a sigh and wiped away a tear that trickled down her cheek.
She heard a noise behind her and turned to see her mom putting a cookbook away on the shelf. “Mom, do you think Jenny is cold and hungry out there?”
Surprised at the question, her mom stopped what she was doing and looked at her daughter’s face. “You mean Jenny the cat?” she asked. At Mandy’s nod, she took Mandy’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Jenny has always loved going outside. She is a good hunter and her fur will keep her warm. She could always take care of herself.”
“It has been so long since she left though.” Mandy commented. “You don’t think she is lost, do you?”
Her mom stood next to Mandy by the window and gazed outside as a few snowflakes began to fall. “Honey, Jenny does not know the area, which is why we tried to keep her inside when we first moved here. But like I said, she loved the outdoors and old ways are hard to break for an old cat. We just need to trust God to guide her back home here and hope that she is not trying to return to the other house.”
Mandy felt her mother’s arm go around her shoulders and she leaned into the comforting hug. “I won’t give up on her,” Mandy told her mother. “I believe God will answer my prayer.”
It had been well over a month since Jenny had slipped out the door left open by a little neighbor boy. Some of the family members thought she was gone forever, but a few of them, Mandy included, believed that she would return. After all, this was not the first
time she had disappeared. Many years before, she had run away after getting hurt in the engine of the car. It had been a cold Sunday morning and she had taken shelter under the hood of the car as the family had prepared to go to church. With one turn of the key the engine had made a terrible noise and refused to start. Upon lifting the hood, Mandy’s dad had let out a surprised cry and a mournful meow came out for all to hear.
“Oh, Jenny!” was all her dad could say. After a long ordeal of working to get the stuck cat out and tending to her needs, Jenny decided she would be better of recuperating outside away from people. She had disappeared for over a month and all hope had been lost that she might ever return. Yet, one evening she appeared at the front door, completely healed except for a slight limp.
So, with that hope of the past history of her return, Mandy held onto the belief that God would answer her prayers and bring Jenny home again. Every night before going to sleep, she would pray, “Dear Lord, please take care of Jenny. Keep her safe and bring her
home to us again….”
Thanksgiving Day arrived. The bustle of food prep was in high gear and things were bubbling on the kitchen stove. While Mandy was dusting the living room, the phone rang. Mandy listened as her mom talked to the neighbor on the other side of the woods. When her mom got off the phone Mandy went running up to her. “What was that all about, Mom?”
Her mom looked at her. “It seems that our neighbor saw a strange cat around her house yesterday. She had heard we were missing ours so she invited us to go up and see if it is Jenny.”
Mandy’s heart beat wildly as they drove up the hill and down the long driveway that led to their neighbor’s house. The lady came out and smiled at Mandy. “I really hope it is your cat. It would be nice to know the stray kitty would have a good home.”
“Go ahead and start calling her name,” her mom instructed.
Mandy put her hands to her mouth and began calling, “Jenny! Jenny! Come here, Jenny!” She walked to the edge of the woods, making the cat call that Jenny knew so well. She waited, but nothing happened. Again she called, but no answer. Tears filled her eyes. It seemed hopeless. Maybe Jenny was truly gone and never going to come home again.
Just at that moment, a faint, weak meow came from the brush near the edge of the woods. Mandy’s eyes grew wide. “Did you hear that, Mom? I heard a cat meow!”
“Call her again,” her mother said.
“Jenny! Come here, Jenny!” The cat meowed again, this time a little closer. As Mandy watched, out of the woods walked their beloved Jenny, extremely skinny and weak, but alive!
Mandy scooped her up and hugged her close. Tears of joy streamed down her face as she thanked God for answering her prayers! He had returned their kitty cat!
As they thanked their neighbor and climbed back into the car, the lady commented, “You know, that is not the cat I saw earlier. I’ve never seen that cat around here before.” Isn’t God awesome?
And so it was, when Mandy’s older brother came in later that day, the look of surprise on his face was priceless as he noticed Jenny nestled on the couch next to their mom. He saw an answer to prayer, his sister’s prayer that is, living proof that we should never give up on God. Never stop believing that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Disclaimer: This story is a true event in the author’s life, though the names of the people and the time period were changed.