Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Of Our God & My Dog

Tonight I cried while looking into the big brown, loving eyes of Macy.

We had been laying on the floor, looking at each other for quite some time, and I had been searching her eyes for what she might be thinking.

But then I realized: Her thoughts were consumed with nothing other than thoughts of me, precisely whom she was looking at and precisely whom she had been following around all day.

Indeed, I have the privilege of being all she ever thinks about, it seems. Even when she's enjoying a bone, it's because I gave it to her -- and so she asks me to please throw it for her, so that she may enjoy it more because of my involvement.

Even when she's enjoying a walk around the neighborhood, she'll stop if I stop. And even if she's enthralled with the prospects of a leaping bunny or dashing squirrel, she responds to my call with gleeful joy and follows me if I walk on.

Tonight at 10:30 PM--with the neighborhood silenced from a freshly fallen blanket of snow--I took her off the leash and we walked around the entire neighborhood together, my mind marveling at her intelligence and my heart swooning with her dedication. She remained loyally at my side, responding immediately to my gentle cues about whether or not we should turn left, go right, or pivot back around. Every day she gives me a million reasons to love her all the more.

And so, as I laid there, looking into her big brown eyes which looked upon me as if I were God Himself, I asked her, "Macy, if one day you were to be old and suffering, what is the moral thing for me to do? What would you want me to do? Should I end your life or should I wait and let God end it?"

I asked these questions amid a stream of tears, for these have always burned in my heart, for as long as I can remember. Weak as I am, I have criticized others for euthanizing their pets, but I have never been in the position to have to make such a decision.

I felt her response to my question most acutely. With those big brown, loving eyes she said, "You ending my life or God ending my life...is it not one in the same for me?"

At this, I realized that she had fully accepted her vocation as a dog, in all of its utter simplicity, utter dependence, and unending love and trust. And I felt God speaking to me, saying that--until He reveals Himself more to us--I am the only form of God that she can see and understand.

What a big responsibility this gives me. I must be Jesus to Macy. I must let the light of Christ shine through me. But, oh, what an honor it is to feel a tiny fraction of what Our Heavenly Father must feel every day, caring for His beloved children!

As long as she trusts, as long as she loves, as long as she responds when I call her, and responds favorably to my will, while having the faith to believe that I will always provide and care for her, then she is serving God as man should and she is fully living her vocation as dog, which pleases and honors God with her life.

Moreover, my dog must have the faith to believe that I will return from work eventually and that--when I leave her each day--I am doing what is best to care for her, even though her mind could never understand the relationship between my work and my ability to provide for her. And so it is with our understanding and trust of God.

And so, I am like God to her. Thus, I am challenged to live a more Godly life, providing for her, even in the smallest of details of her life -- and loving her with all of my heart.

And now to return to the question originally posed.

Perhaps the answer can be found if we first acknowledge the following: We must never euthanize a human being because we do not know his relationship with God, nor God's plan for how that relationship may be best healed or enhanced. Because of this (and also the damage it would do to our own conscience and dignity as persons) we must never euthanize a human being. Who would want to end a human life prematurely if the continuation of that life would eventually lead to that person's deeper relationship with Christ?

But a dog is different. Macy is already "right" with Almighty God. She is already pleasing Him sufficiently, just as she is, just a dog. It is for this reason that Our God could very well wish to bring animals to Heaven. They are not complex, fallen humans in need of Christ's redemption.

Rather, they are simple and called to be nothing more than they already are. If that is pleasing to God who made these creations, then they could be pleasing enough to bring to Heaven!

Animals are gifts to us from God, creatures on whom we must practice our morality and sense of obligation for the betterment of our souls and the treatment of others.

And so, when it is in HER best interest, a suffering dog may be put to sleep. If it is not in HER best interest (but is instead a matter of inconvenience for the owner), then it is not moral to end the dog's life.

How beautiful that Our Heavenly Father uses this same discernment of "best interest" for his children to make decisions about our lives!