I’ve been an animal person all of my life.
But not the kind of animal person jumping on all band wagons of all things fuzzy. I’m more of a farm girl kind of animal person. I like to care for the baby animals and nurture the old animals and love on all of the ones in between. I like to care for them in a shepherdess kind of way. I like the day in and day out grind of it all … The ups and the downs and the somewhat monotonous middle places.
Because I’m a farm girl and a good, God-fearing, Christian girl, I’m often asked how I feel about animals going to heaven. Do they go? Will they be there? I mean, on one hand, God wouldn’t give me a love for animals and have verses in the Bible about them being in heaven if they weren’t going to be there.
But what about everyone’s favorite hamster or my forty eleven dogs that wandered up or were dumped at the farm. And isn’t our goal in heaven to be in a new heaven and new earth and be praising our God? Do I really need to be juggling all the things? So I’ve always been a little two-sided about the matter.
The other morning, I awoke like all other mornings on the farm. It’s like tossing a coin. It’ll be painfully quiet and completely peaceful or it’ll be my worst nightmare. That’s when the cat jumped across my chest and to a shelf sitting next to my back door, and then placed his paws on the door knob as he looked out the window and let out a long meow.
Ugh, I thought. I laid in bed and wondered what was provoking this weird behavior. As I looked out the window, I saw my very, very old rottweiler had died in his sleep. I wept. Part of me wondered, what now?? The other part of me was thankful God peacefully took this gigantic creature in his sleep. This was the perfect … Well, as perfect as one could hope … scenario.
As we laid him down into the enormous hole my husband, quite painfully, dug for him, I sat in a chair and wept. I did more than weep. I ugly cried. I cried the most heinously excruciating tears I think I’ve ever cried. It was like going to the funeral of an unsaved person. It cut me to the core.
This dog was more than a family member. He was more than a child to me. He was my protector. He was my support. He was my right-hand man always in the shadows ready to work and defend. He was like a security blanket. And my tears bubbled up from a deep place I had never known. And that’s when the whole “Do dogs go to heaven?” question just melted away.
Because here’s the deal … I don’t know the answer.
And as I listened to the dirt fall in that lifeless grave, I was okay with the unknown. Part of the secret I learned in that stifling hot opening in the woods was that it is OK to just not know. My job is to care for God‘s creatures. It truly is my job. And I take it tremendously serious. Not in a spray paint your fur coat kind of way. In a God said so kind of way.
I remembered the words of C.S. Lewis as he described a woman in heaven surrounded by children and animals:
Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”
That’s how I want to be described.
Because in the even bigger picture, my job is way larger than caring for these animals. My duty is to spread the Gospel. I don’t want to ever stand over someone’s grave and ugly cry because they aren’t a Christian. And perhaps if I had just said that one “thing,” it would have changed their life. I don’t want that blood and death and sin on my hands. And not because of the guilt I’d feel, but because I don’t want my God to ever stand over a grave and ugly cry over one of His children.
And I know He does. A lot. And that breaks my heart. He is just too beautiful for that.I'm learning to be okay with not having all the answers on heavenly things. Because God does.Click To Tweet
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