“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our
likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,
over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures along the
ground’.” (Gen 1: 26 NIV)
Three wooden boxes on my bookshelf…waiting… gathering dust. The oldest is 4 years old. Inside are the
ashy remains of my three beloved furry-friends – Tammy, Toffee and my beloved
Three boxes on my bookshelf…waiting.
I’ve been holding onto these boxes all this time; I’ve simply
not been ready to release them. It’s the last thing that remains of my beautiful,
departed dogs. Up until now; my latent grief has simply been ‘boxed’ up together
with these three boxes. Closure has been delayed.
But today is the day! Finally, I am ready. It’s time to
release them to whence they came.
2014 has been my year to be at Bible school. It’s been a year
where I felt I was been called to a period of studying God’s word. It was an opportunity to uncover a clearer
picture of what my faith was all about. Although I have been a Christian for a long
time, my soul hankered after answers. I
needed more knowledge about my faith so that I, in turn, would be able to
encourage others who struggle like I do.
In January this year, when I started at Bible school, I was
very aware of a statement that many of my animal-loving, blogging friends had so
often repeated to me.
“If my dog doesn’t go to heaven, then I don’t
want to go there either!”
I had few
answers and even fewer words of encouragement for these mourning friends. I understand their pain and their deep
connection between them and their beloved furry-friends.
The loss of a companion animal is devastating. The loss of
my own beloved Maxdog was devastating too. It’s been four years since I said
good-bye to him. After all this time, my
tears still well up when I think of him and the blessings that his presence
brought into my life. There are so many memories – some happy, some sad. We spent ten whole years together – with Max constantly
by my side. Without him in my life, I
may well not have been here today.
Nowadays, I have a much better understanding of that time of
my life. I am absolutely convinced that Max’s presence in my life was directly ordained
by the God, Father and Creator of the Universe.
The word of God tells me that He has always known me – that He “knitted me
together in my mother’s womb”(Ps 139:13). He has always known my deeper
emotional needs too. And he knew, just when Maxdog was needed in my life. I believe strongly that Max was sent to me – a
buffer against the world and the difficulties I was having at the time. He was a gift from God at a time I needed it
So now …three boxes remain… and it’s time to let them go.
For me, scattering these ashes in my garden is symbolic of
my trust in God - for Him to receive the spirit
of my three beloved companions. It’s clear that these animals never really
belonged to me in the first place – I was simply their ‘steward’ during their
lifetime here on earth. They were my
helpers. But they belonged to God and to God they must return. Scattering their ashes is my gesture of “thanks”
and acknowledgement to God. I am
eternally grateful for the role these animals played in my life. I know now that I no longer need to rely on
their memories, but instead I can turn to Jesus – who understands and
faithfully loves, cares and protects me. (from myself)
At last, here are the words of encouragement, I have longed to share...
I have learned during my Bible studies that God cares deeply
for the animals of this earth. He gave them to us – to name and to use for our
purposes on earth.
“Now the Lord God had
formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the
air. He brought them to the man to see
what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that
was its name.” (Gen2:19 NIV).
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen
God’s covenant (after Noah), I believe, also extends to the
animals. And this is why I say this: scripture tells us:
"Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 'I now establish my covenant with you and with
your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the
birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the
ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again
will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be
a flood to destroy the earth.' " (Gen 9: 8-13)
“I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.
Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the
rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting
covenant between God and all the living
creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Gen 9:15-16)
So now it's time...and I've scattered their ashes in my garden.
Fly free, sweet Tammy…
Fly free, sweet Toffee…
Fly free, sweet Maxdog…
"Thank you Father, for the blessings these beautiful animals
brought to me. I release them to you now
in love and trust. You are an amazing Creator
and an amazing God!"
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
Can you remember a time when you were very, very afraid?
This is the question that I asked my husband some years
ago. The imagery of his answer has
remained with me ever since:
He was small: three or four years old. It was the middle of the night. He remembers
clearly sitting on his mother’s lap, with her arms around him…Her presence and quiet
reassurance allowed his fear to eventually dissipate. His trust in her was absolute.
This picture of a child sitting in its mother’s lap is
something I can relate – especially if I visualise myself sitting on God’s lap
with my own fears.
“There is no fear in love.
But love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in
love.” (1John 4:18)
In 2006, at the lowest point of my journey with depression,
I remember fearing life itself… In my darkest hour, I reasoned that death would
be an easier choice. My God, faithfully, brought me through that dark time of
my life – something I will always be so thankful for.
Jesus identifies with this kind of fear. He also had His
darkest hour – in the garden of Gethsemane – just before facing his horrifying
crucifixion. It was during this moment,
that He resorted to prayer:
“Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow
to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little
further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father, if it is
possible, may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matt 26:38.39 NIV)
Having studied the bible this year, I have come across
numerous passages which deal with fear. Yes, a healthy fear of our God is very
wise (Job 28:28); but this kind of fear is a respecting, reverent fear of God.
It’s describes the time that we stop and consider, in awe, God’s immense majesty
and power. This is, indeed, the beginning of wisdom – when we know that
everything – even our fears - is under
In contrast, however, I am talking about the kind of fear
which is crippling and which hinders our lives. What are we afraid of? Is it the
unknown? Is it because we are scared of being harmed in some way? Are we scared
of what others think? Or is it financial
fear? Abandonment? Physical threat? Illness? Politics? For our faith? All these fears stem from past experiences
we have had in our lives. Dwelling on these experience have fueled them
It reasons therefore, that the more we experience Christ in
our lives, the less fearful we will be. If we focus on Christ and pretend that we
are sitting in His lap, sharing our fears with Him and focus on the LOVE and
protection which He offers us, then surely our fears will dissipate?
“Do not be afraid,
Abram. I am your shield, your very great
reward.” (Gen 15:1) It’s not fear that
God promises us, but great REWARD!
“...for God gave us a
spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6-8 ) (English Standard Version Anglicised)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you that we can come to you with our fears.
Please help us and grant us the strength to face those things that we fear.
You are our shield, Lord.
We love you.
Have a happy day, dear friends...and celebrate this life that God has given us
“Faith” is a concept that may be vague to many people
and it may be valuable to explain it more clearly.
In order to accomplish this, I would like to introduce an analogy which I have
considered for many years.
It is really interesting to look at ‘the relationship of us Christians to our Lord God; Jesus Christ’ and
compare it to ‘the relationship between
a companion dog and its Master’. There are some strong lessons we can learn
from dogs and their behaviour. Indeed, we can apply some of these lessons to
our understanding of our own Godly ‘faith’.
Let me explain...
Let us first consider the definition of ‘faith’ in Hebrews 11: 1(NIV)
faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.”
A well-trained animal that has been trained by using ‘positive-reinforcement' methods, will follow the commands of its master happily,
diligently and efficiently…simply because it knows that it will get a reward in
the end.In the case of a dog, these
well-trained furry-friends will even go so far as to initiate action (like picking up an item off the floor for its
owner, or bark, or do a trick) in the knowledge/belief that there is a biscuit or
other reward at the end of the process. Their training gets to a point of total
and absolute devotion. They become singularly loyal and will take a fall for
their masters in the blink of an eye. In total faith, they will run through fire, endure the most
dangerous of situations (eg taking people out of the Twin Towers, displaying
loyalty at grave-sites, etc ) – because they have
total trust in their master’s plan!
I have had the privilege of
experiencing this kind of devotion from an animal and consider it to be one of the most beautiful examples for us - of ‘absolute
FAITH’ - by any non-human creature on this planet.
So, let’s look now at us human-beings. In the same way, if we believe and have total faith in our own Master, Jesus Christ,
and if we follow His commands and trust Him completely, we too will be
rewarded. Our rewards, however, may be
delayed and we may only experience them in Heaven, once we leave this life. In
contrast to the dog, however, we are challenged to a higher call. We are asked to have faith in eternal life
and the promises of Jesus Christ. Many of these promises are ‘unseen’, but
through faith, we are certain of their truth.
“I will put my laws
on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
God Himself is faithful, and our trust in
this fact serves to affirm our own faith:
“Let us hold unswervingly
to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Just as I have highlighted the faithfulness of some
companion dogs, the author of Hebrews 11, (Paul and/or others), highlights
various bible characters who have demonstrated great faith for us to learn from. These people have done things (demonstrated
faith), in the knowledge of a Godly promise and their certain reward (even
though this reward is an ‘after death’/eternal one). Here are a few examples:
faith, offered a better sacrifice than Cain because of his ‘attitude’.
faith, was taken from this world and didn’t experience death. (Gen 5:25),
faith built an ark and suffered the ridicule of his generation prior to the
flood, and the promise of a brand new world.
4.Abraham (and Sarah): by
faith, left his country into the ‘unknown’ in obedience to God – believing that
God would make him the father of many descendants. In his old age, he continued
to believe this too. Indeed, God granted
him a son – Isaac – in Sarah’s old age. By faith, Abraham was willing to
sacrifice his one and only son in obedience to God.
5.Joseph: by faith, spoke about the exodus from Egypt
and gave instructions about his bones after his death.
faith led the Israelites out of Egypt and instituted the Passover. He regarded disgrace for the sake of God as a
greater reward than the treasures of Egypt. By faith, he turned his back on the
there are many, many more bible characters who are examples to us of incredible
The message of Hebrews chapter 11 is simple:
“God has planned better things
for us, that through Him, together with us, it would be made perfect.” (v40)
We merely need to trust and have
God wants us to practice our faith, by demonstrating
obedience to his commands…so that we, ultimately, will spend eternity by His
“Let us run with perseverance the
race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter
of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its
shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2)
What do I, by faith, want to accomplish this week?
This week, I want to focus on totally believing God’s
promise to me:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)
I have, by faith, nearly completed my first year at Bible
School. There were times, during the year, when I wanted to give up, but in my
heart, I believed that this is what God wanted of me. God is my Master, and I
believe that Bible school is the first step that he wanted me to take in his
plan for me. I am still not clear on
what direction He wants me to go next year, but I have faith that He will reveal
it when His time is right... and use it
for His ultimate glory
So, dear friends, what do YOU want to accomplish, by faith this week?
Everything on earth is accountable to a Master and there
is a subtle hierarchy of command amongst all living creatures on this planet.
In Genesis 1:28, God
“Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds
of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In other words, we have been appointed
God’s ‘stewards’ of this earth for the creatures living on it. This is the
reason that I feel I can present my chosen analogy of the dog and it’s Master for
this particular blog post today.
God has made us accountable to Him for everything we do
and don’t do. Our relationship with the creatures of His creation is pertinent
to this accountability. He will judge us
at the end times for these things. His creation is a precious thing.
we constantly fall short in our behaviour and our spirit towards these things, there
is good news: God offers us a Saviour, a Mediator and a Counsellor in the form
of his precious son, (our own earthly steward) Jesus Christ, who bears the
brunt of our failures.
thank you for your beautiful creation.
Help us to be faithful to your message, your commands and your promise.