Our pets are precious to us. The Barrier family has owned a plethora of furry friends: a boisterous border collie, a cantankerous Corgi, a gregarious Golden Retriever and a demon-possessed Dalmatian (not really, but definitely not our favorite dog). We even owned 32 hamsters. Bronwyn, our youngest daughter, purchased two hamsters to use in her science fair project. She thought she bought Ricky and Eddie. Instead, Eddie turned out to be Lucy. So, in a matter of months, we were overrun with hammies. My enterprising pastor-husband gave a parting “hamster gift” to each student in Bronwyn’s class. Some moms still are not speaking to us.
Shannen was our favorite dog. If she were Catholic, she would be canonized as a saint. Shannen was graceful, gorgeous and gentle. Roger awoke to her wagging tail and fell asleep with her curly head upon his lap. She heeled without a leash and quietly followed him from room to room. Shannen went to doggie heaven last night. We were devastated by her sudden illness and rapid decline. Roger and I spent Christmas holding her heavy head in our arms.
I learned much about God from Shannen.
· God rejoices when I arise each morning. The moment I come into His presence, He exults with joy. Shannen leapt with glee when Roger awoke from sleep. She couldn’t wait to play with him.
· God loves me unconditionally. Even if I turn away, He welcomes me back with open arms. All past wrongs are forgotten and washed away by His lavish love. We are imperfect dog owners. Our dogs know more commands than we. But they smile, wag their tails and adjust.
· God delights to dwell with me. Shannen was our constant companion. The Holy Spirit resides in us, comforts us, counsels us and convicts us. The saddest question in the Bible is God’s cry to Adam. “Where are you?” He laments. The Father’s greatest joy was to walk with his children in the Garden.
Will we see Shannen again? I’m not sure. I’d like to think she’s eating bacon strips and sleeping contentedly upon a cloud. Paul’s letter to the Romans and John’s apocalyptic vision may give us a window into the future.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. Romans 8:19-20 NIV
John penned this powerful promise:
“I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea.
2 I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.
3-5 I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.” The Message
Well, Shannen, you are loved. And you will always be remembered as the finest of friends.
For more information, read www.preachitteachit.org/ask-roger/detail/are-dogs-religious-do-dogs-go-to-heaven/.