2001-08-10 - Four-Legged Theology Professors
Originally Published 1999-12-29
In honor of my dog Pierre, who has been ill this week, and because my father is still recovering from open-heart surgery, I am sharing an "encore" from December 1999. My prayer is that something in it will speak to your heart. Also, for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope that you have a warm and happy one.
Since I was 5 years old, I have been a "dog person." Through the years, I have almost always owned a pet dog -- a total of eight. I would like to share with you some lessons they have taught me.
Eph 5:15-16 (NNAS) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
Champ was the faithful, gentle Collie I had as a teenager. I loved that dog, but I didn't show him often enough. One day I came back from a date, to find his little lifeless body in my parents' front yard. I felt so bad for not being there. I had such regret that I had not shown him more appreciation when he was alive. Never again would I take for granted a relationship. Never again would I leave things "hanging" in a relationship. "Champ" taught me that we should show people, while we have the opportunity, what they mean to us. He taught me to appreciate every moment of life as a gift to be treasured.
(Luke 18:1-8 NNAS) Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, "In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.' For awhile he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.' And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?
Ralph was a Cocker Spaniel who was a member of the family for 10 years. When he was at the beach, he liked to chase crabs and chomp off their succulent little legs. But they didn't make it easy on him. He would sit literally for hours sometimes, waiting for them to pop out of their holes. He never tired of waiting. Ralphie taught me that if something is important, it is worth working persistently, and waiting patiently, for as long as it takes. Like the persistent widow, the words "giving up" were not in his vocabulary.
(1 Cor 13:12 NNAS) For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now Iknow in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Three years ago we adopted Pierre, a Brittany / Cocker mix, and an excellent hunter. His hunting acumen impresses even my father, a hunter of over 50 years. Pierre has the most accurate nose and eyesight I have ever seen in a dog. Sometimes he will gaze far down the road and start barking furiously. I don't see anything yet, but I have full confidence that there is someone or something there, be it an opossum, a cat, a deer or something else. I know that his vision is far better than mine is. Pierre reminds me that even when we can't see it happening, God is at work and we should trust Him. Just as eventually a cat will appear on the horizon, vindicating Pierre's barking, in time we will see what God was up to in our lives.
Sometimes we believe that we are doing dogs a favor, when we take care of them. But they often "give" back to us. Sometimes the most profound theology comes from God's little creatures.
Dear Lord, thank You for making a textbook out of everything in our lives, including our pets. Give us the eyes to see and ears to hear what we can learn from your Creation. In Jesus' name, Amen.