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Like a thief in the night

Birmingham, Alabama, is always within two or three degrees of the temperature in Brandon. That means it was biting cold in Birmingham last week when Othel and I moved in with our grandchildren for a four-day stay while their parents took a short holiday.

My first adjustment was bracing myself for the indoor climate change. Even though our grands are southerners through and through, they have the stamina of Eskimos. Their feet stay toasty warm and barefoot whenever they are in the house, and Eli’s hot nature means the entire family is comfortable in the 60 degree range. That dictates I pack fleece and wool socks when we go for visits.

As the temperature continued to drop, I suggested that one of the kids bring their pet cat inside. Half of our family is allergic to cats, and the other half isn’t, which makes me an off and on feline lover. My sympathy for their calico cat in the icy winds and cold gained their sympathy, so we invited the fur ball inside.

Since she’s only allowed for a prolonged stay at night, she quickly realized her lottery win and headed up the stairs for a warm and sequestered spot. Everyone forgot the cat until bedtime. Shields usually slips her into her room at night where the two snuggle off to sleep. When I asked Shields about the cat, she didn’t know where she was, and the cat didn’t come when called.

No worries. The cat would show up in the morning when she was ready for breakfast. Othel and I got all the children bedded down and thanked God for warm, safe beds for our grands. Then we moved our bags into the master bedroom and drifted off to sleep to the hum of the electric heater.

At 4:15 a.m. I was dreaming that there was a weight on my chest — no, it was one of the children trying to wake me, wanting to climb into bed with us. Suddenly, I woke — not to see James standing next to me but the cat standing on my chest, gazing eyeball to eyeball into my face.

I shrieked silently as I bounded out of the bed, flipping the covers and tossing the cat into the air. It howled and ran from the room. Othel fell back asleep after the wild wakeup, but I didn’t. I was wide awake and had time for a really early devotional study. I knew immediately that a reality verse for the morning should come from 1 Thessalonians 5:2 — “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

The cat more than startled and scared me out of my deep sleep. It was a sobering reminder of Christ’s unannounced return and the urgency that believers understand in being prepared and in a watchful mode.

Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS, 39602, or e-mailed to camille@datalane.net.