As some of you may know, I have a cat living in my house right now. Skipper belongs to my daughter Kristen and her husband Ric. He is here with them until they find a home of their own. The other day I had a friend stop by with her two year old daughter Kelsey. Now Skipper is an “only child” and does not have experience sharing his home with other little bodies. I was nervous that Skipper was going to put on his devil personality when his ears go back and his behavior turns demonic. Anxiously, I watched as Kelsey chased after Skipper, ready to intervene when Skipper’s claws came out. Surprisingly, Skipper seemed to enjoy the strange small person who was playing with him. At one point in the chase, Skipper did the cat move where he suddenly flung himself in front of Kelsey. He sprawled onto his back, exposing his long furry white belly and with all paws in the air, he took on the pose of “Aren’t-I-just-adorable” and I shall now say “Uncle!” in total cute submission.
Dogs usually make that move – on their backs with belly exposed – that scream ‘submission’ and beg for a belly rub. The ‘say Uncle’ part, if you aren’t familiar, is an expression that means “to admit that you have been defeated.” For example, in an informal wrestling match, one’s opponent may be asked to demand submission by exclaiming “Uncle” in the same way one might say “I give up.” At our yacht club, there is a sail boat named “Say Uncle” – I take it they want the other boats to admit defeat in a race and to say ‘Uncle.’ Losers.
The word ‘submit’ is found many times in the bible. Most husbands like to remind their wives about the biblical command of submitting to their husbands. They forget to add the next part that says for husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up to her. Submit. It’s not such a bad thing. People just don’t like it when someone else is in control. But to submit does not mean that someone else has control. When you submit, it means you made the choice to yield or surrender to the will or authority of another. Also, when you submit, there is a responsibility on the part of the person you have submitted to, for them to have your well-being in mind as well as their own. If the one being submitted to wants to be successful in their desired outcomes, they will have great concern to the needs and achievements of the one submitting.
I was reading about the meaning of Skipper’s belly-up pose. In dogs, it definitely is a posture of submission. In cats, it may look or seem like the same message that the canines deliver, but in fact for cats, “belly up” is the attack position. It is the only position where they can use all their weapons at once (four clawed paws). Exposing its belly is not a submissive posture in a cat, it’s an aggressive one. I think (and hope) that Skipper was being submissive to Kelsey.
Most of us are like Skipper when it comes to submitting to Christ. We know we should and we take our stance – but are we ready to have our bellies rubbed or put out our claws?
Proverb 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
God wants good things for his children. We want good things, too. Sometimes what we think is good and necessary for ourselves, is not what He knows is really good for us. When we choose to follow Christ, we must keep in mind that His plan is always good and that He has our best interests in mind. Oh we may feel like putting out our claws sometimes, but it’s a much better choice to opt for the belly rub!