I Don’t Care About Your Theology

I Don’t Care About Your Theology

In autumn of 1972 my spouse and I were living in a tiny house—please believe me, it was TINY!—just north of Dallas, where I was resident caretaker for a Montessori school. In addition to cleaning ten classrooms and ten bathrooms every day and taking care of the school grounds, I had to feed and care for the resident horse, three goats, miscellaneous chickens, and five feral cats.

The youngest feline, not yet full-grown, we named Zacchaeus, because he was rather small even for his age (see Luke 19:1-10). He was wild, having been born outside of human influence. But my dear spouse was sufficiently patient to tame him (to a limited extent). It began with tantalizing treats placed perhaps a dozen feet away. After a great deal of skulking and checking for ambushes, Zacchaeus would run up, grab the treat, and scurry away. That continued, with the treats moving closer and closer, until my incredibly patient spouse had Zacchaeus purring and eating out of a very gentle hand.

Eventually, Zacchaeus decided it was safe to enter our minuscule house. He would interact intimately with my spouse, but would not let any other human come near him.

One afternoon a few months after Zacchaeus was “sort of” tamed, I was typing on a manuscript in our bedroom—which was of sufficient size to hold only our bed, a small desk, and a chair crammed between the two—while Zacchaeus was sleeping as far away from me as he could get on our bed.

As I typed, words came to me out of the blue: “Lay hands on Zacchaeus and pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

That was shocking, to say the least.

My response: “Ummmmm, that makes no sense. That is totally against my theology. I really don’t believe in that. . .”

The response to my response was emphatic: “I don’t care about your theology. Just do it.”

So I slowly leaned over the bed until I could reach the sleeping feline, gently placing my hands on him. I prayed simply and quickly, “In the name of Jesus, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Then I promptly removed my hands, placed them back on the Underwood Standard machine, and resumed typing, trying to forget that the previous incident had ever happened. Zacchaeus continued to sleep.

I thought nothing more about that episode. I figured it was one of a multitude of occasions when I imagined I had heard the Holy Spirit, but it was no more than a fantasy.

That evening my janitorial assistant (he did the floors every day, while I did the toilets) ate dinner with us for the first and only time. He was a pleasant-natured high school kid whose very long hair disturbed the conservative Montessori teachers and parents, but made me feel quite at home after having moved to Dallas from Boston. Our table adjacent to the kitchen sat only three people. Barely. As we were eating, Zacchaeus jumped up into my spouse’s lap. That wasn’t unusual, as he had become friendly to one single person, while fearfully shunning all other members of the human race. After sitting in my spouse’s lap for a few minutes, Zacchaeus got up, stretched, and crawled over into my assistant’s lap. That was the first time he had ever voluntarily touched a human being other than my spouse! After a few more minutes, Zacchaeus crawled into my lap and went to sleep. He was totally transformed! From that hour, he was friendly toward people.

Interpret this story however you want. I have no problem believing it to be valid, because our friends the Grahams had a “Christian cat” in Houston named Prince Hilarion whose adventures unambiguously related to spiritual dynamics (but that’s their story, not mine). I can say only that Zacchaeus became our Christian cat. He would come when we called him, even from a hundred yards away. He had a strong gift of discernment that led him to seek out individuals who were filled with the love of God, and to run from people who had connections with evil spiritual forces. He was a source of joy.