For the love of the dogs

The Covington News - - Religion -

Tom and Nate — my two younger boys — went over to Mrs. Ruth’s yes­ter­day to wash her four dogs. She has bea­gles, the kind of dog that just won the West­min­ster Dog Show. The boys en­joyed the work. When I picked them up, they wouldn’t leave un­til they had pet­ted all the dogs again. They must get this from their mother.

I’m not re­ally a dog per­son. Give me a good book, a cup of cof­fee, a slice of pie or any one of th­ese over a dog. I know this is a char­ac­ter flaw. But when I see a dog, I see some­thing that needs to be walked, fed and taken to the vet. The boys see it com­pletely dif­fer­ently. Where I see “thing,” they see per­son­al­ity.

On the way home from Mrs. Ruth’s the boys told me the names of the four dogs — Rocky, Bitsy, Zelda, and Cisco — and re­marked on how each was dif­fer­ent. (Ev­i­dently Zelda will bark at you if you don’t pet her enough.) Just hear­ing the names of the dogs makes them more in­ter­est­ing, and the next time I see them I’m go­ing to try to match the dog to the name.

Speak­ing of nam­ing an­i­mals, did you know that this was one of Adam’s first jobs? Read Ge­n­e­sis 2, “Out of the ground the Lord God formed ev­ery beast of the field and ev­ery bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And what­ever Adam called each liv­ing crea­ture that was its name.”

It doesn’t say that Adam pet­ted them all. But he did have to pay at­ten­tion enough to name them all. He had to fo­cus on each kind of crea­ture, in­di­vid­u­ally. Now surely Adam would have named the crea­tures on the earth on his own, even­tu­ally, with­out the Lord’s prompt­ing. He would have been walk­ing through the gar­den and said, “I say, there’s some­thing new; I think I’ll call it a lion.” No, the nam­ing was not left to chance; this was a big deal to God. All the newly cre­ated crea­tures were brought to Adam. The mes­sage is that th­ese crea­tures are im­por­tant, no­tice them, name them, and care for them.

(By the way, the Bi­ble does not say that God brought a gold nugget or a bar­rel of oil to Adam to be named — liv­ing things clearly take pri­or­ity over ma­te­rial things.)

The mes­sage is re­peated a few chap­ters later when God warns Noah of an up­com­ing world-wide flood. Noah is com­manded to build an ark large enough for his hu­man fam­ily and large enough for a male and fe­male of each kind of land based crea­ture. The ark was to be a float­ing zoo; Noah a zookeeper. God clearly val­ues all the dif­fer­ent crea­tures on the earth. And strange as it may be, God must even know about Zelda, Mrs. Ruth’s at­ten­tion seek­ing bea­gle.

Je­sus said to his dis­ci­ples, “Are not five spar­rows sold for two pen­nies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. In­deed, the very hairs of your head are all num­bered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many spar­rows.”

Spar­rows, bea­gles, peo­ple — God sees the whole world. Some of us may not be doglovers, but thank­fully, God is a peo­ple-lover. God knows your name, your quirks, your likes and dis­likes. Imag­ine how you ought to love, and then imag­ine that this is the way that God al­ready does love you, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only be­got­ten son, that whoever be­lieves in him should not per­ish but have ev­er­last­ing life.”

John Donaldson

Colum­nist

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