Today is a hard day.
Yesterday, just before midnight, our beloved German Shepherd Shadow died. He was nine years old — young in our estimation — and we weren’t ready to say goodbye. We buried him in our family cemetery early this morning, several hours before dawn.
Romans 1:20 teaches that God has revealed Himself — His invisible and divine qualities — through what has been made, so that we are without excuse. I have heard it said — and it seems true — that we are unique in the universe as the sole portion of God’s creation who act and will in rebellion against Him. We do it often. But the rest of His creation submits itself to Him and always acts in accord with how and for what purpose He created them. In that respect, every other part of creation somehow perfectly represents some divine or mysterious attribute of our Creator. They all exist, and they live as they live, to make Him known to us.
Shadow taught us many lessons about and from God. Here are a few of them that seem particularly poignant today.
Life is short and unpredictable.
Just four short weeks ago, Shadow was frolicking in our river with our children. He was running and barking and playing. We even talked about how he was only nine, and still had good years ahead of him. Then one day that all unexpectedly changed. We’ve spent the last month, long days and nights, trying to figure out what was wrong and watching him suffer through whatever ultimately took his life.
Life is short and unpredictable. You not only never know when it’s going to end, but you also don’t know when it will dramatically change. There is so little we control or understand.
Life is short and unpredictable. Don’t waste it. And appreciate every moment you have.
“Pay careful attention then to how you walk, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16
God listens and is faithful.
Cosette (one of our daughters), Andrea (my wife), and I all prayed — independently and without each other’s knowledge, but unwittingly at the same time — that if Shadow was not going to live through his illness, that God would take him quickly, to end his suffering (and ours). Just moments after each of us uttered our individual prayers, Shadow passed.
While today is certainly a day of mourning, it is also a day of sober reflection on the intimate nature of who God is, and what He desires with us, with me. I may be surprised by the answer, I may not even like it, but I can’t escape the shocking conclusion that somehow the Creator of the Universe listened — to me, and to us — and then acted in accordance with what we asked.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of Him.” – 1 John 5:14-15
Faithfulness, and Loyalty, and Love are Every Day.
There was not a day, or a moment, in Shadow’s life that he was not excited to see us, wanted to be with us, and eagerly and enthusiastically showed us. Not a day went by where we were not incredibly important and special to him. Just a few short days before he died — despite what had to be excruciating pain and lameness — he circumvented the fence around our property and ran the half mile to our swinging bridge just to be with us.
I am convicted that I don’t communicate love this way. I don’t love this way. This is not only who Shadow was, but is an unbelievable picture of who God is. To all of us.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.'” – Lamentations 3:22-23
While I am sad and mourn the loss of our friend, I also rejoice and am grateful for the nine years God gave to us with him, and especially for the lessons He has left behind through him.
Thank you Father for all you taught us – and me – through my dog. I will miss him.
“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” – Job 1:21