William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, encouraged their children to keep a variety of pets, both as a way of enjoying some of God’s creatures and as a means of learning to care responsibly for others. Dogs, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs (the latter numbering nearly a hundred at one time) and other animals made up the family’s revolving menagerie.
For a time the Booths’ daughter Eva had a mischievous pet marmoset named Little Jeannie. The monkey was very affectionate toward her young mistress but all too often guilty of “indecorous behavior.” Little Jeannie would race up the curtains till out of reach then peer down at the people below with disrespectful grimaces. The elaborate Victorian era hats worn by some of the ladies who called on the Booths (“sometimes very important and dignified ladies”) seemed to provoke the monkey. She would leap onto these headgears and screech her disapproval!
Eva was very sorry about this and hoped that her wayward pet would reform. A hired household servant who worked in the kitchen sought to promote the reformation process by making a miniature Salvation Army uniform for the recalcitrant creature. When Catherine Booth spotted the uniformed monkey she said nothing but immediately began to unclothe it. “But, Eva,” came the mother’s quiet reply when the daughter began to protest, “she doesn’t live the life.”
Eva never forgot those words. The concept of “living the life” stayed with her throughout her long career of devoted Christian service.
Colossians 1:10-12 provides Christians with a helpful summary of what “living the life” should look like: “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”
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An account of the life and ministry of Catherine Booth is featured in my book Women of Faith and Courage. It includes many instances of how Catherine sought to influence her own children and numerous other individuals in faithfully following and serving Jesus.
Copyright 2014 by Vance E. Christie