(Friends: I can count on one hand the times we have sent out more than one Orange Moon devotional a day during the past 21 years. I think you will understand why I do so today when you read this. Thanks for the prayers I know you will pray. Glen).
"It Shall Be Forever"
(For Our Beloved Sparrow, My Literary Companion)
I am going to miss her so very much.
We will say farewell to our beloved beagle Sparrow today. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure ten months ago, and while she has done well during that time through the care of an excellent veterinarian, our best efforts, and most of all, God's grace, the time had come to grant her a merciful departure.
I have spent my lifetime with words, speaking them, writing them, praying them, and every now and then, even thinking a few of them. If I had a thousand lifetimes, however, or even ten thousand, I could never begin to express how much Sparrow's departure hurts. Those of you who have the book on prayer we wrote (Sparrow and I) may remember it was dedicated to "my literary companion, Sparrow." We will publish another book later this year of which the same is true. In thirteen years as well, Sparrow has been by my side for the writing of more than 4,000 Orange Moon devotionals. Of course, I wrote before Sparrow. But for the life of me, I find it hard to think about writing after her.
As I dug the grave today where we will lay Sparrow's body, I did a lot of praying, a lot of thinking, and then something which surprised me. I became angry. Not at God, no, not in the least. But I found myself expressing within my heart, "This is not right! This is an aberration! This is a horror!" My inner outcry resulted from a thought that came to me as I performed my painful task. Sparrow did nothing to deserve this! But I did! As did the entire human race, beginning with Adam. It was his sin and our sins that made necessary God's right and righteous judgment on His creation. "By one man death sin entered the world, and death by sin" (Romans 5:12). Without death, we would have no hope for redemption because we would not realize our desperate spiritual and moral condition. Indeed, a world wherein every creature suffers the ignominy of physical demise screams at us that we must have a Redeemer for our sins, and also bears witness to our culpability for the suffering of innumerable other creatures.
This led, of course, to the far greater consideration of another innocent Party who suffered and died for our sins. The Lamb of God knew sorrow, shame, forsakenness by both man and God, and death because of our sins. Again, "not right!… aberration!… horror!" Please don't misunderstand. I am not questioning God's ways, or the perfection of what the Lord Jesus Christ did according to our Heavenly Father's eternal purpose. I am not foolish enough to begin to understand how God's sovereignty and human freedom work together according to that purpose. But I do know this: death is not God's ultimate intention for His creation. Moreover, in the present era, He determines and allows death only because it is a necessary component whereby His purposes will ultimately be fulfilled. This is true of even those who reject Him and will sadly experience what the Bible calls "the second death": "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Revelation 21:8; Ezekiel 33:11). So, while we certainly trust God's perfect ways concerning death, I do not think it inappropriate to rail against this intruder in His creation. Especially when we consider that our Dearest and Best, our blessed Lord Jesus, had to suffer the death we deserved and He did not.
I try to never conjecture about God and His truth. Perhaps the emotion of this time therefore leads to the license I am allowing myself for a final thought. Every time scientists come up with a new measure of the universe, its dimension leaps to indescribably greater measure. As believers of Scripture, we know that all things are God's things, and we also know that we live in a sin-damaged creation. What if, therefore, the trillions of innocent creatures who have died on this planet due to no sin or fault of their own might one day be raised from death to again inhabit the new earth, or perhaps even the myriad number of worlds that exist in God's handiwork? I do not know. But I do recall this, from Ecclesiastes: "For I know that what God doeth, it shall be forever. Nothing can be put to it, or anything taken from it" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Whether this speaks to my conjecture, I cannot say. But knowing the beautiful heart of our Lord and Solomon's affirmation of "shall be forever" makes me wonder.
This is the last Orange Moon Sparrow and I will write together. A home vet will come soon arrive to bestow upon her a merciful departure. She lays near my feet, sleeping (for which I am grateful). My heart breaks to write these words. But my heart rejoices in gratitude for these thirteen years with my "literary companion" who has been so much more to us, in so many ways. And my heart is filled with hope because whatever the future holds for Sparrow and all of God's creation and creatures, this I know…
"As for God, His way is perfect."
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."
Weekly Memory Verse
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
(I Timothy 1:14)