2008-08-06 - Lacy
Last Tuesday, our dog Lacy was playing out back and just passed out. Dana brought her in and thought she was dying. When I got home she was panting 90 miles an hour. I figured she was overheated and tried to get her cool. Her breathing got under control and she got up and walked around. By the same time Wednesday she still hadn't eaten or drunk anything. So off we went to the vet. With our limited funds, the vet couldn't run all the tests they wanted to run but what they did didn't show anything. So we brought her home and she seemed to be getting better. They didn't find anything and prescribed a general antibiotic just in case it was a disease. Thursday she was a little lazier than usual but doing pretty good. By Friday she was back out playing again. But she fainted again, started the panting again then stopped breathing. She started again then stopped again. With a couple final breaths she died Friday evening. What passes for dirt in Georgia is known as Red Clay. In consistency it is somewhere between limestone and granite I think but nonetheless we wanted her buried in our back yard so I set out to dig the hole. Luckily, my brother-in-law was able to come to help because as we finished it was barely light enough to see.
My older son asked questions like "Will Lacy go to heaven?" and "Does it hurt when we put dirt on her?" It was his first brush with death. It was my first experience of ever being there when the person or animal died that I can remember. Anyway, with all this going on death has death has been on my mind a lot this past week so I did some studying and thought I'd share it with you.
Ecclesiastes talks of how there is a time for all things including death. It also has a little to say about animals.
Ecclesiastes 3:21 (NKJV) - Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth?
If I understand this verse it seems to say that the spirit of people goes to Heaven but animal spirits just go into the ground. This does not say animals go to Hell just to the grave. Looking back at the creation story man was made different from all other creatures. God spoke other creatures into life. But he sculpted us and breathed life into us. We have a special quality of God's breath his spirit in us. Because God is eternal our spirits are eternal. The only question is where our eternity is spent.
Death is nothing for Christians to fear. As Paul said, "To live is Christ. To die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). The worst that could happen is we lose this old shell and get a new one. But we still live. We have victory in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This wasn't a mystery like we think of as a mystery but rather a secret that was revealed to those within the Church. Some Jews believed in the resurrection, others did not. Some apparently believed that the soul just kind of hung out with the body in the ground until the resurrection while others believed the soul went to paradise. The secret being revealed was that the spirit went to heaven and that one day it would get a new body. But the greatest statement is this so don't miss it: Death has no sting, Hell has no victory, and it is all because of Christ and Christ alone.
Maybe you are wondering about your Uncle Elmer or your sister Sally. You wonder if they are in heaven or in hell. Maybe you wonder what they would say. I do not know where they are but I know that regardless of their soul's location if they could speak to you now their message would be the same. It would simply be, "Believe in Christ now!" If they were saved they will say that because they want you to enjoy all that they are enjoying. If they never asked Jesus to be their Savior and Lord and they are in Hell, they will not want anyone they know to join them. Just look at the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
But I digress so let's get back to animals. Ecclesiastes has another verse that speaks of animals.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV) - He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
In here if my English teachers are all correct the "their" refers to the "everything". Animals would be an "everything" with a "heart" so they have some eternal aspect. It seems Ecclesiastes 3, could be looked at to say that animals have an eternal or soul after all. In fact animals have existed longer than man. They were created in the perfect world before the fall. They are part of God's perfect plan. They were even preserved in the flood. Man has always co-existed with animals and always will. Lacy may or may not be part of the new Earth but dogs will be.
So I had to answer my son's question with "I don't know but I think "
And here is the bottom line for me. Despite what some people say there is crying in heaven. At the very end however Christ will wipe away those tears by erasing from our minds things that would make us sad. "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 NKJV) We may get there and be sad that Elmer isn't there or that my Lacy is not there but when the new heavens and the new earth are created we won't remember that anymore. For all eternity we will be happy with what is there. "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17 NKJV)
I don't think I've answered anything but I hope it's given you some food for thought. Eternity is just a heartbeat, or lack thereof, away for each of us so it is something we need to think about. There are immortal souls in mortal bodies all around us and they need to know that life doesn't just end. They need to know there is a God who loves us and wants us to be with him. And they need to know that there is a Hell that God never intended for them that is very real too. They need to know they must choose God and receive Heaven or accept Hell by default. Will you tell them or will you wonder about them?
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted