GoD and DoG

A piece just a bit off the usual well worn path.  Been a tough couple of days, it has.  I’ve titled this one for a little song written by Wendy Fransisco… let’s listen.  If your heart has strings this will give them a tug.

I study the Bible a great deal.  Not bragging, it’s a thing I love to do.  I’ve heard a lot of preachers say a lot of different things about peoples pets.  None of them truly Biblical.  What I’m going to say is not “necessarily” Biblical either but it’s based on who I know God to be as He has revealed Himself throughout time, in His progressively revealed book that is the Bible.  This is just my (hopefully at least somewhat) informed opinion.

The Bible aside for a moment, seeing this is a post about dogs, I have learned more about my relationship to God from my different dogs throughout the years than I have from any other source, go figure.  People are about as different from dogs as God is different from people.

Gods ways are not mans ways.

Isaiah 55:8…  “ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Neither are mans ways dogs ways and vise versa.  We’re very different.  Perhaps God and dog have more in common with one another than man has with either?  I wonder…

People, above and beyond all else, are complicated creatures.  Admit it… we are.  Dogs are such remarkably simple creatures; and in my studies, I’ve found that God is a very simple God as well.  He wants us to want to be with Him.  That simple.  Since before the foundations of the world were laid God knew us and had a plan and purpose for His people.  We saved are His children.  A dog as well is happiest simply being with its person.  Wherever I am in my home there are 2 dogs, a Great Dane (Moose) and a Beagle (Tucker Bean), very near by.  They are my canine children.

If you’re saved, you know God asks nothing in return for His great favor.  His love comes completely without cost or contingent.  It is pure love, unconditional in the utmost.  Understand, I’m hardly saying that dogs are little “g” gods but I will say that the love a dog presents its person is as unconditional and uncomplicated as a person is likely to experience in this here corporeal world.  Free of judgement, bias, prejudice, envy, etc. (the human flesh – Gal 5:19-21)… all things which plague the majority of complicated human relationships.  My wife and I experience none of these issues of course…

Our relationship to God (an honest one that is) is one of utter dependence.  Were it not for God, the next breath I took would have been taken in vain.  It is God and God alone who provides any lasting meaning at all to life.  Eternity underlies the essence of meaning.  If existence were not eternal, existence would be vanity.  Of course we have free will and choose to do lots of things which provide daily meaning, sustenance and enjoyment.  Without God however, meaning itself, aside from survival for survivals sake (eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die), life would lose all context.  The saved know there is far more to come after this vapor of a life passes away.  We are joint heirs with Christ who made the world and all things in it.

Rom 8:16-17…  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

In a similar way is a dog completely dependent upon its person.  It’s he from which not only his daily sustenance comes, but any and all love and kindness the dog receives is person dependent.  That person becomes the dogs entire life.  What a realization when honestly considered.  Is it reciprocated in our relationship with God?

Our human children grow and become independent.  We as parents rightly desire this, that they eventually leave our homes to make their own ways and create their own families in the world.  By this we know we have succeeded as parents and can then enjoy life as older, wiser grandparents.  A dog remains entirely dependent upon its person throughout its entire life and we as people, whether fully realized or not, remain dependent upon God.  Given the choice a dog rarely if ever leaves its person; a person should never leave God but many times does.

Have you ever wondered, with all the trouble we humans are to God, why does He still love us?  What is it exactly we “do” for Him?  What do we provide Him that He would care so much about us?  We sin constantly, disobey, disbelieve…

Psalm 8:4…  “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Acts 17:24-25…  “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

In the same vein, what is it that dogs do for humans?  They poop on the floor, shed all over, bark at nothing, chew on everything, cost a fortune, fart at the most inopportune times…  but, over and above all their trouble, they have become our companions through thick and thin.  Some even have very important jobs tending to the disabled and guarding our lives and property.  They are always there for us no matter what and, as any dog lover knows, we love them no matter what.  They are truly mans best most simple friend in this world.  Might a loving God simply desire our trusting companionship as a loving human desires a dogs?   Can the (human) analogy be drawn that God loves us as we love our dogs?  I’m going out on the limb to say yes.  I personally believe God is trying to show man something about Divine Love in a K9 mutt.  Does a dog, as one of Gods creatures, reflect that loving part of God for man to witness?  I think so.  I witness it time and again personally.  Uncomplicated, uncompromised, unconditional love.  Consider, God gave all the animals to Adam for him to personally name and they had zero fear of him.  What an amazing scene, even though his true life partner had not yet been created.

Perhaps I am just being too sentimental…

The dog I had to put down the other day (Ruby – 13) was a troublemaker from the word go till she turned about 5 years old.  Disobedient, rebellious, self-willed… but somehow completely and totally adorable, as lovable and sweet a dog as ever lived.  She grew into a remarkably wise old dog, but and again, if I’m being honest with myself, I can ask the same questions the psalmist and Paul declare in the above scripture; what does dog do for me that I would love her so?  Cause I’ll tell ya, I loved that dog (and my other two) more than I love most people.  No conditions attached.  She was always thrilled to see me, even if I was gone for only 30 minutes out in the yard, and I was always thrilled to see her when I returned.  Constantly grinning and wagging her tail till the very end.

There’s a lesson here as always.  After Ruby “grew up” and became an adult dog, all she ever wanted to do was to please me.  She knew how much she was loved by the way I treated her and her only desire was to return as much of the same back to me as she was capable. The key word here I believe is TRUST.  As she grew so too did her natural instinct to trust her leader.  I can honestly say that dog would have followed me anywhere.  All throughout the Bible, in situation after situation no matter the situation, God simply asks mans to trust in what He says.  Time after time, man decides to trust in himself and not God; same as that “young” Labrador.  Believers today are asked simply to trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ as payment in full for our transgressions.  Why is that so hard for so many?  As I’ve grown personally in Christ, I’ve simply learned to trust what God says in His book; and now that I do, the entire universe just falls naturally into place.  So simple.  Like my relationship with my adult dogs… they understand me.  I understand the Lord.

2 Tim 2:7…  “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

In the beginning we humans had our Creator as a direct Companion.

Gen 3:8(a)…  “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

Imagine hearing the voice of God our Creator in the perfect garden just as natural as can be in the cool of a beautiful day!  This was/is Gods ultimate intent for us.  As we know, it didn’t last too long.  Demonstrated in these few words however is the entirety of creations purpose.  That God and His creatures might commune one with the other in simple uncomplicated perfection for all time.  This will occur in the future; it is His will for it to be so.

Rev 4:11…  “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

He created us for His own pleasure.  He created us not to be disobedient and defiant but for us to trust in and learn from; to live by and together with Him in His perfect wisdom.  Why did I buy that dog when she was just an 8 week old pup?  I submit that it is for the very same reasons.  My ultimate desire was to provide for that dog a beautiful and loving environment wherein we both might thoroughly enjoy each others company.  I wanted canine companionship as I have always loved dogs.  Me in my capacity as a human, she in her capacity as a canine.  Her capacity as an uncomplicated canine is in providing fun, loving companionship without guile, judgement, confusion or condition and that is no small feat.  Experiencing such here in this world is a rare treat indeed.  Few people are capable of the same in regards to one another.  She made it very easy for me to return the same wonderfully simple companionship to her…

God, because of our sin, can no longer currently dwell physically with man.  (He tried that, we killed him…)  He has put in motion a situation by which all things will eventually be redeemed back to Him in His good time.  Man, if he’s a responsible owner, does live in close physical proximity to his dog.  I didn’t get rid of Ruby when she disobeyed.  I trained her to obey.  Why?  To magnify myself above her?  No, but for her own good, that she might live a long, happy and healthy life; because without me, the dog would have not lasted long at all.  Through my consistent actions of love and rebuke toward her she learned to trust me.  As God knows what’s best for humans, I knew what was better for her than she was capable of knowing.  She, like Adam, didn’t realize the error of her ways when she “broke my commandment” not to run out into the street, for example.  A car could have hit and killed her.  That commandment was given because I loved the dog and wanted her to prosper under my care.  For whatever reasons one cares to speculate, God knew something about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that Adam didn’t, He knew that once eaten, the fruit of it was deadly; yet without it our free will choice (God or self) would be void.

Ruby was lucky that each time she chose to run out into the street a car didn’t hit her and eventually learned not to run out there; to “keep my commandment”.  Good dog.  Because of that she was rewarded with as long and wonderful a life (and an absolutely painless peaceful passing) a Labrador Retriever could have ever possibly imagined.

In this dispensation of grace there are no commandments.  We as humans, by fighting back like rabid dogs against Gods righteous and loving intent for us, have put God in the unenviable position of allowing us to do whatever it is we wish to do in this world.  He’s taken His hands temporarily off the steering wheel if you will.  The “dogs” have been left to fend for themselves, the kennel doors thrown open wide; the “flip side” of free grace; sin abounds.  Does it ever…  He has left the choice out in the open, a man can either choose God or self; God will honor either choice a man makes.  A dog can choose to either bite or lick the hand that feeds it.  Remarkable that so many dogs choose to lick and not bite.  Why do so many people choose to bite?  The answer I believe, is self.  Men look within.  That was the fruits poison.  Dogs have no ego with which to place themselves upon pedestals.  They (animals in general) never ate from the tree.  They suffer in this evil world for our transgression.  Their interest is focused on their person, with rare exception, completely and totally.

And what a rewarding experience it is for that exceptionally lucky person!  Anyone not ever knowing the simple unconditional love a dog can have for a man is truly missing out on one of life’s greatest treasures.  Life’s greatest treasure is knowing the love God has for man.

Rom 8:38-39…  “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is a very compelling duality here: between God, man and dog that all of us should take thoughtful personal note of.  I have and I’ve been rewarded, as Wendy notes in her song, with knowledge of that love from both sides of the equation.  It’s truly amazing.

John Hiatt performs one of my favorite tunes.  Pardon the cuss in the intro… but he nails it fairly well perfectly with  this one!

“My Dog And Me”

She marked our trail
Up the back bone ridge
How many times can one dog pee
She keeps me high as an eagle
When I’m on the skids
I guess you gotta come down eventually
Buddy I coulda gone that extra mile
For an extra bark or an extra smile
I never felt so free
It was just my dog and me
Then she gives me that look
Like she’d lay down her life
No doubt she would in a minute, man
She’d face the bullet
Oh she’d face the knife
Just to keep my butt from the fryin’ pan
Now she’s runnin’ up ahead to chase some deer
Comes back to tell me that the coast is clear
It’s a different world I see
When it’s just my dog and me
There’s a rabbit on the run
Man and beast and sky and sun
Who’s talking to the birds in the trees
Why its just my dog and me
Now it looks like we’ve been makin’ tracks
From the crack of dawn
To the end of the day
So its nice and easy down the mountain’s back
She wouldn’t know
Any other way
So its over that ridge for one last mile
‘Til we’re fast asleep by the fire side
Dreamin’ these dreams for free
Just my dog and me
I never felt so free
It was just my dog and me
Me and Doobs

This picture taken an hour before Ruby’s death.  Will you be that happy, even in physical pain?  That dog KNEW she was loved; that nothing bad would happen to her as long as I was there.  I pray I am as I KNOW where I’m going.  I KNOW, as nasty as I am, that I am loved.  Animals are innocent.  Not perfect, but sinless.  Unsaved man is guilty; a saved man is found innocent as he is “in Christ”.  It is man that brought sin and death (selfishness) into this world for which the whole of creation suffers the consequence.  It is God and God alone who provides hope of physical redemption from this evil world into His eventual new creation; freed from mans original transgression into glorious perfect companionship with Him and all other living creatures as it was in the beginning.  I for one cannot wait…

Rom 8:18-22…  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

What an honor and privilege it is to share the lives of creatures free from petty human selfish desires.  Thank you Father for creating such wonderfully goofy loving creatures and placing them into my care.  Rest in peace Ruby.  I’ll miss you for the rest of my days.  I can’t prove it scripturally, but knowing how absolutely amazing, powerful, loving and creative our God is, I do believe I’ll see you (and Rose and Murphy) again in the magnificently perfect future world God intended all along.  I believe it because as His child, I ask it of God my Father and I don’t believe He would deny His own.  He created everything (man and dog) for the pure pleasure of creating; for simple trusting loving companionship.  I have dogs for the pure pleasure of having dogs; for simple trusting loving companionship.

If any in the DFW area are facing similar end of life decisions for their pets I cannot recommend Dr. Fiona McCord at Compassionate Care Pet Services highly enough.  What a blessing she has been.  Thank you for taking such sweet care of my girl Doc.