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Monday, February 8, 2021

"The Way of All the Earth"


"The righteous has regard for his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

In 1 King chapter 2, God through the inspired writer rehearses the scene when David is about to die and is giving his son Solomon instructions concerning what is to follow. Just before he does that, he tells Solomon that he is "going the way of all the earth." He then proceeds to remind Solomon of all that God had done for him and how that, even though David had been a man of blood and had certainly committed his share of sins including adultery and murder, God had been merciful to him and had shed abundant grace upon him.

I was reminded of this passage this past weekend when my wife and I had the sad duty of having our little dog Mickey put down because of increasingly worsening health problems. It is indeed the lot of every creature to "go the way of all the earth." Just this past November my wife's sister died unexpectedly and suddenly. Although she had some health issues, they had not been seen as serious enough to threaten her life, certainly not so soon. The Lord, however, has determined when our days will end and when, again like David, we each will "fulfill the purposes of God in [our] generation."

 As we struggled to gain some composure and peace after our decision and after it was implemented, we thought about the purposes of having pets and what it can teach each of us. And one thing that came to mind is the fact that our pets (dogs and cats, anyway; perhaps fish and turtles do too!), love us unconditionally. They do not demand that we be good or "nice" people. Although they love to be petted and loved, they do not give us their love based on the amount of good we do for them. More importantly, however, and the greatest lesson that I believe we can learn from the life of our pets, is that they do not wait for us to be lovable before they give us their love.

 As imperfect, fallen human beings we often struggle to love those whom we find, to our way of thinking, unlovable. Even some of those with children are often faced with children who mistreat and disrespect them and who, in the words of Paul, have little if any natural affection. Nevertheless, as Christians we understand that love is a command and not a feeling. Agape love is the love of purpose, the love that seeks the good of the one so loved without regard to their loveliness or their worthiness. It is the love that God has shed upon us: "But God commends His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The greatest lesson from the life of our beloved Mickey is that we are to love like that: without expectations, without demands, without regard to the other's worthiness.

 In the hours and days after Mickey's death, I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions. At times sorrow seems to become almost overwhelming. And then, without notice, I feel almost elated that God gave us this little creature to love and to take care of for more than 13 years. And above all, that He has given us the privilege of learning an essential lesson for our lives. If in the end we learn to love like that, all the pain will be worthwhile.

 



4 comments:

  1. Sorry for your loss, Mike. But a really excellent lesson in unconditional love.

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    1. Thanks Matt. Good to hear from you. Blessings

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  2. As I think I mentioned to you by email, I was somewhat well along in life before I understood the attachment someone can have to an animal. And though I yet think some folk get a bit carried away with their pets - I too have felt the anguish of watching a beloved dog die. We had a dog we called "Lips" because she had very pronounced, almost human lips. She also had the most intense, human like gaze I've seen in an animal, and as she lay dying from parvo, watching me for help or deliverance or whatever - I had an incredible sense of sorrow and helplessness. Years before my response would have been "it's just a dog." But never again. Our little two dogs we have today are getting older - and will soon come to their demise. (Though I am likely to meet mine before they theirs!) But you conclude rightly - one ought to be happy that God gave such an animal to care for and love and enjoy.

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    1. You are so right. God does all things for a purpose...a good purpose. Even in our suffering we are blessed. To paraphrase the civil war general it is well that life is so full of suffering, else we should get too used to it. Thanks and blessings.

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