When the doorbell rings at midnight, it’s almost never good news.
The other night I was sitting on the couch reading a book. It was after 11 p.m., and my husband had been asleep for more than an hour. Just as I was starting to drift off, I thought I heard the screen door to our front porch slowly opening.
Due to some nocturnal neighborhood antics, we have been leaving our porch lights on all night. From my seat on the couch recliner, I could easily view a portion of the well-lit porch through the cut glass window of our front door. What I saw jolted me upright—our screen door was slowly opening. I screamed loudly, “Who’s there!?”
Stunned by my own quick reaction, I realized I hadn’t frozen in speechless terror as I always thought I would in a moment of panic. Then time moved in slow motion as events crash-piled together.
My husband bolted out of bed shouting, “What! What?”
From their cozy coils nearby, my cats flew to opposite ends of the house.
The doorbell rang.
The clock projected midnight.
And after a long suspended fraction of a second, the small voice of a little old lady shakily spoke from our front porch, “I was walking my dog and I saw an injured cat in front of your house. The light was on, so I thought I should tell you …”
As I moved toward the door, I asked, “Did it have three legs?”
Now, you’re probably thinking, That’s an odd thing to ask. Patience. It will make sense soon.
The old lady then said, “Okay, you’re scaring me. Will you open the door?” I thought, Who’s scaring who, lady?
But I opened the door. Meanwhile, my brave husband was still standing by our bed looking dazed and confused.
On our front porch stood an elderly neighbor who I had not met before and her dog. As I opened the door, she repeated her original story about seeing an injured cat in front of our house. So, I asked, “Did it walk with a limp?” When she said yes, I quickly began to explain that the family across the street has two three-legged kitties. Yeah, I said two three-legged kitties.
I reassured her that the cat was fine, and she and her dog went on their way. My husband crawled back in bed and was snoring within minutes. I, on the other hand, had massive amounts of adrenaline coursing through my veins.
I began to ponder the strange events that were hammering this analogy into my brain: things aren’t always as they seem. In my sleepy state, I had thought a bad man was attempting to break into our house, but it was merely a concerned old woman trying to do a good deed.
And what she thought was an injured animal turned out to be, well, I believe, a mischievous feline playing a trick on an old lady and her dog. Just recently I had talked with our neighbor about his two three-legged kitties. Both of them like to hang out in our yard, and one of them has made friends with our Siamese, though they remain separated by the screen on our back porch. Their injuries are old wounds; one was run over by a car, the other broke its leg in a freak fall. The break was so high that the entire leg had to be removed. Both cats get around with no problem now, except for obvious limps.
The funny thing is, I’ve seen these cats lying in the middle of the street at night. Gee! No wonder they’re three-legged. Right?
The first time I saw one casually stretched out in the road at 10 p.m., I tried to get him to move, thinking a car could round the corner at any second and leave him two-legged. Then, I realized, this cat was playing with me. He seemed to be saying, “Wouldn’t it be fun to freak the humans out? I’ll get up from the middle of the road and limp off like I’m hurt.”
Seriously, I could read the mischief in his eyes.
Now, you’re probably thinking I’m a crazy cat lady, anthropomorphizing these creatures to the extreme, but I’ve seen these cats in action. And our midnight doorbell event was proof enough for me. The old lady had fallen for the trick!
As the endorphins drained from my system, I mulled over these questions: How much of what we see with our eyes is an accurate observation? Are the judgments we make based on actual reality or only an altered perception? Are things really as they seem?
I remembered what my friend Skip had recently explained to me about dark matter and dark energy. Scientists theorize that humans are only able to observe (or see with the naked eye) about 4% of the Universe, and the rest is considered dark matter. (That’s my hyper-simplified explanation, by the way.) But the theory suggests that there appears to be much more “out there” than what we can see.
This made me think about the unseen spiritual battle we believers are engaged in according to Ephesians 6:12:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (NLT)
So, once again, a cat has helped teach me a vital spiritual lesson. In many situations as we seek to follow and serve the Lord, it’s important to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture from God’s vantage point. Perhaps things are not as they appear. Or maybe there’s more going on than what we can see. Science and Scripture both point to this truth. So, before we draw any conclusions or make judgments, careful discernment is often necessary.
But if your doorbell happens to ring at midnight, it’s probably still best to assume it’s trouble.