Can Animals Preach the Gospel?

Can they proclaim the Good News and the glory of God?

Lovers of scripture can indeed find numerous examples of God expressing His great power and divine purposes through His creation.  At God’s command insects, animals, and forces of nature plagued and destroyed the world power of Egypt.  Balaam’s donkey spoke, animals obeyed the call to the ark, and at Christ’s call schools of fish arrived to the disciples’ boat.

“For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.  (Psalm 50:10-12)

Creation declares God’s glory and He reveals it to us through the most minute details as well as the vast and endless universe.  He reveals so that we may acknowledge His awesome power.    God knows us…His will is that we come to know Him.

God’s creation reveals His glory but also His great love and divine providence.  God uses His creation to intervene into the lives of people often as divine appointments, impossible to plan or replicate.  Reigning over creation, His will often supersedes natural order, such as a ravenous bird delivering food…

 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”  (I Kings 17:4)

Or perhaps a tiny kitten going forth in the rain.  This five minute video expresses such ‘divine appointment’….

vet saved by kitten

Desperate  soldier saved by kitten

View video here

There are countless true heroic stories of dogs and other animals rescuing, guiding, and ministering to people.  Martha Thompson is one blogger and author with such a story to tell in her book,  Giving Paws, where an unlikely service dog enables her to face the many life challenges of a hidden disability.     

giving paws book

The story is as beautiful as the cover photo

There is no way to schedule such divine appointments nor could we ever arrange to have our deepest needs and hidden grief so touched through them.   These stories and perhaps even our own move us to laugh, cry and marvel.

Looking deeper,  marvel at this – God intervenes in our lives through His creation, gifting us with His mercy and revealing His greatness. As a cherished gift conveys the love of the giver, so even animals given to us can express – even silently preach – the good news of God’s love reaching into our lives.  The Lord ministers, heals, and intervenes into our lives for the divine purpose of drawing us to Himself.

When creation intervenes it is an living invite from our Creator.

Jesus Christ, our Savior, is the One holding dominion over all creatures and creation…

For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1:16

Our furry friends, designed and often gifted by God, can teach, guide, love, rescue, and befriend…and perhaps they can preach as well!

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:7-10)

Lord, reveal Yourself to us today through the gifts of Your hand.  Let thanksgiving lead us on a journey to acknowledge You and seek You in all circumstances.  Draw our hearts to look beyond every gift and “fix our eyes on Jesus”, “the Author and Finisher of our faith”.   Amen.

 

“You, Lord, Care for People and Animals”…Maggie!

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.”  Psalm 36:6

One may recall from previous post, “The Lord Taketh Away…Maggie!” (3/5/17) that I tearfully purchased a burial pod for my furry friend in February this year. But six months after the significant diagnoses of megacolon, liver mass, pancreatitis, cholangiohepatitis, and anemia, Maggie is still here and on the go!

Maggie in PA for Summit School of Ministry graduation…

Maggie in PA (2)

Graduation can wait…room service please!!

Why is this important? The Lord often reveals His truths and glory through His creation, whether through the lion’s boldness, the ant’s diligence, or the beauty of the lily of the valley. In fact, the Lord can reveal His truths through any and all the circumstances in our life…which includes the life of Maggie! God is not bound by any report of man whether it is a negative, even terminal, medical report, a ‘pink slip’, divorce paper or ominous threat. When such a report comes, it may be time for the ‘burial pod’ but faith should open our heart to whatever the Lord reveals for His purpose and pleasure.

When the Lord calls us to “go” or to “do”, He will enable us, provide for us, and fulfill His purposes through us in spite of limitations and obstacles. It is through those challenges that faith muscles grow and God’s word is proven.

May this truth take root – God is not deterred when the sun is setting on our life. Age, dwindling resources, and increasing weakness are not hardships to God who declares, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” The Lord is not looking for super Christians, only surrendered vessels in whom He can dwell. Whether He allows or brings us into storms of hardship, disappointment, sickness, or betrayal we can hold onto the promise of Romans 8:28 which represents the sovereignty of God. For those who are His, all circumstances, events, calamities and details – even enemies – are under His control.

Elderly Maggie attends All Night Prayer (Commemorate Armenian MartyrsPray for Their Unborn posted 4/12/17)

Maggie at all night prayer (2)

Well, nearly all night!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-7

Our ‘own understanding’ leads us to ‘figure it out’, ‘plan ahead’ and ‘move forward’ without hearing from God. While the world rewards ‘self-starters’, the ‘empowered’ and ‘ambitious’, the Lord is seeking surrendered followers who wait and trust Him with the lead.

Maggie and Bible 2

“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”

God knows when every “sparrow falls to the ground” and He knows the exact day Maggie will ‘fall to the ground’. Until then and until that day comes for us, we are not bound by any bad report of man.  If “our lives are hidden in Christ” He has reign over our lives and will “order our steps” as we surrender to Him.

“Lord, I pray that we can live each day with faith that You’re in charge, that You have all authority, and that You are well able to order our steps. I pray for a hunger to know your word more and meditate upon it so it takes root and lives within me. Help me to commit and obey. May the reports of ‘man’ – no matter how ominous or weighty – never cause us to shutter but compel us to seek you, trust you and wait upon you for direction.  Amen.” .

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11

When the Lord “Taketh Away”…Maggie!

“…the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Job 1:21

Soon after Maggie’s fabulous New Year Resolutions (see December 2016: Resolutions? Maggie Knows the Best!) she went to her vet with constipation and another seemingly minor complaint.  Surely simple interventions would resolve the problems and we’d be on our way….

“Haven’t you noticed that Maggie’s lost weight over the past few months?  She’s lost 2 pounds!”  The concern on Dr. Chiverton’s face seemed odd, I thought slimming down was a good thing.  However, x-rays, a sonogram and overview of blood work analysis yielded bad news…liver tumor, pancreatitis, and the final stage of chronic constipation – megacolon.  I saw the results and know what they mean for a 16 year old cat, “I want to treat her, make her comfortable, but I don’t want to prop up her life artificially to make me happy.”  With that I left Maggie in the clinic hospital.

maggie-in-hospital

Maggie during visiting hours….

A challenge loomed ahead as a planned trip with my elderly parents was set four days later.  Could I leave my loyal and loving companion?  Might she pass away while I’m gone?  Could I disappoint my elderly parents?  I prayed and could not discard the conclusion to go.  I hired a vet tech to oversee and administer meds.   “She’ll be okay” my husband said but to me I saw her weak and fading away…

I do believe in the sovereignty of God and His desire to reveal Himself to us and that He often does so when we are oppressed and in turmoil.  He honors our decision to go forth as He leads even when our feet are iron clad. 

I went through the motions at the airport with a heavy heart.  As time passed and thoughts swirled, pain gripped my heart.  I walked slowly to a vendor for bottled water and suddenly these words rose up clearly and etched into my soul,

“In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:10 

With a deep exhale, a great weight was lifted from me and the following days passed lightly, even enjoyably.

Maggie did survive but soon returned to the hospital.  This time I began perusing ‘final destination’ plans for my furry good friend.   “I believe God’s going to heal Maggie”, said husband Bob.  I almost chuckled when he added, “she can be with us another 5 years.”  I was hoping for another 5 weeks, when the ground wouldn’t be so frozen….

As I sat in the waiting room praying, contemplating and further perusing, another verse pressed upon my heart,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above….” James 1:17

I never doubted that Maggie was a good and perfect gift from my heavenly Father.  After finding her and her litter at an abandoned brownstone, she was the friend who sat beside me during times of grief, cuddled alongside when others betrayed,and  remained constant when life events brought upheaval and confusion.   Maggie is a ‘good and perfect gift’.  From that my heart grasped the further truth:  when God gives a good and perfect gift, His hand is seen in the beginning and in the end.  I sincerely and decidedly handed Maggie back to the Lord,” I give her back to you Lord” and my worries lifted.

And what is Maggie’s status?

podphoto

We’ll be storing this away for now!

Subsequent exams show her colon shrunk.  Recent blood screens find liver enzymes normal.  Is the tumor gone?  I don’t know.  Maggie’s eating again, gained 3 ounces in two weeks and, pardon me but she’s even pooping!  It hardly gets better.

Animals may be nicer but are not more important than people however, spiritual lessons and intimate fellowship with the Lord has immeasurable value.  When scripture transforms from written word to living word, we hear from heaven.  We will not ‘throw away’ the burial pod but will trust the Lord to keep that which we committed to Him.  We trust Him to prepare us for every life event – the giving and the taking away – and anticipate His lovingkindness even or especially when brokenhearted.

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10)  Maggie agrees….

maggie-slaps-five

and slaps a low five!

Resolutions? Maggie Knows The Best!

In fact, there is no need to wait for a calendar change or ‘ball drop’ to start these….

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

maggie-reads

                                               “I will seek Him with all my heart…”

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior;  my God will hear me”.  Micah 7:7

maggie-at-window-1

                                                     “I will wait upon the Lord”

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8

maggie-snoozing

“I will rest on His promises”

I pray that we find the Lord in greater measure.  And that God’s word encourage us as we wait upon Him through trial and storm, finding rest through the Holy Spirit.  

May the Lord order our steps into the New Year.  God bless you!

Do Animals Go To Heaven?

"If only this were true for me too..."

“If only this were true for me too…”

Do Animals Go to Heaven?

After my beloved cat Remy died, I pondered this question at length.  A few days later,  while approaching a co-worker’s office,  I caught the end of her conversation with another.  They were apparently discussing heaven.

“Do animals go to heaven?   I always hope to see my dog there….”

“No,” was the reply, “They don’t go to heaven, they have no soul!”

What?  No soul?  I did not offer the objection that arose in my heart.  Obviously this sincere woman did not know Remy….nor the likes of Cookie, Scout, or Tina.  What about beautiful Kelly, our seeing eye dog, whose heart was solely bent on pleasing her family?  And Alison, her ‘co-worker’ who, in times of grief, could read my countenance and run to comfort me?  Alison….who, in her senior years of retirement, saved her family during a house fire…. no soul???

I began a Biblical search to grasp a broader understanding and, quite frankly, validate my hopes and own anticipation.  Animals are frequently present in the Bible, most often in a positive and purposeful way.  God is not indifferent to them at all, in fact He displayed His unmatched creative glory when He fashioned the animal kingdom.

The Lord’s overtures to animals are actually vast, from Genesis – where He ushered in every specie into an ark –   to the ‘lion and the lamb’, noted in scripture as present in His coming heavenly kingdom.   In the book of Numbers, chapter 22, God ‘opened the mouth’ of a donkey, letting him speak his mind to his rider Balaam.  It is obvious from this text that the donkey had more wisdom than his master.

God cares about animals, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”  (Matthew 10:29)  “In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”  (Job 12:10)

We are but stewards of this earth and all that is upon it – God is the rightful owner of all, “….every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”  (Psalm 50: 10-11) .  The Omnipotent and Omnipresent One knows every bird…while, according to National Geographic, man has yet to even identify 86% of earth’s species!

There is more in scripture to affirm that the Lord knows and cares for all his creation.   No Bible scholar would dispute these findings.  The question remains, do animals go to heaven?

Well known Christians such as Randy Alcorn and C.S. Lewis provide theological argument and insight supporting the presence of animals and/or pets in heaven.  Scripture describes the presence of animals, living in harmony, in God’s coming kingdom: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together….The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, the lion will eat straw like the ox….”  (Isaiah 11: 6-7)

If the soul is where the mind and emotion meet, where intellect and reason dwell, then yes, of course, animals have souls.  Who doubts their capacity to discern friend and foe, express emotions of love, anger and fear?  There is little doubt that animals communicate.  They grieve for lost members – do they not love?  Anyone with a beloved pet knows, they receive and give.  Delving deeper, do animals have a spirit?  Can they hear from God?

There are Biblical examples of animals hearing the call of God and obeying – at His call they came to the ark, at His call fish swam into nets.   They are created for the service and pleasure of man but owned and governed by their Master.  They live out the life designed by their Maker.

Jesus Christ provided forgiveness of sin to all who receive Him.  As “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23, we need a Savior.  The shed blood of Christ is the atoning sacrifice for all who come to Him in faith.  Through Jesus Christ we have salvation and life eternal,  “…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”  I John 5:11.

What about animals?

Assuredly, the Son of God did not die for the eternal life of animals.  However, animals did not rebel against God.  Within Biblical teaching we can see that it is man who is born with a sinful nature, man who rebelled against God, man who is capable of every wretched sin conceived in the bowels of hell.  Assuredly, it is man who is in need of a Savior!  Above all, we must ask, are we reconciled with God, are we heaven bound?

We have a Savior, our Good Shepherd, who has prepared our way to eternity.  Much of what awaits for us there is a mystery.  Animals will surely dwell in the coming Kingdom of God – will Remy be there?  What about Cookie, Kelly, Scout?  Why not?

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”   (I Corinthians 2:9)