God with Fur On
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
On Friday, the day I had been dreading finally came. When Ruckus (my dog) cried out for a minute or more in a painful spasm, I knew the cancer had spread to his bones and that it was time to keep my promise to my faithful friend not to let him suffer. When I called the vet, I discovered they were closing in 20 minutes. There was no time to think or to call anyone to go with me; we just went. And then it was done.
Of course for me, as for so many others, our pets are our family and losing them hurts like few other things. I have a Ruckus-sized hole in my heart. And it wasn’t just me. Gatsby (pictured here) knew something was wrong and even now continues to look for the dog. They were buddies. So while normally I exile Gatsby to the sun room at night so he doesn’t paw my face at 2 am, I let him have the run of the house on Friday night. As I got into bed, he jumped up with me and stayed close while I read and did my evening devotions. I shut off the light to sleep and about 20 minutes later he jumped down and went out of the room to go investigate the dark.
I tossed and turned, my heart aching for Ruckus. Finally I just burst into large hulking sobs. In an instant, Gatsby was back, running from wherever he had been and jumping back up on the bed. He curled up close and stayed there until my sobbing subsided and I again settled down. Then he jumped back off the bed and went about his business.
There’s a chapter in my new book about our relationship with animals and the importance of the human-animal bond. God often comes to us in other people—God with skin on. But there are many times when God is wearing fur rather than skin. For many people, the only experience they’ve ever had of unconditional love is from a beloved pet. To discount that, as unfortunately many do, is to take away the only bridge some people have to experiencing God’s love. Sometimes it is the fog that comes on little cat feet; sometimes it is God.