"Scripture says a great deal about animals, portraying them as Earth's second most important inhabitants. God entrusted animals to us, and our relationships with animals are a significant part of our lives." - Randy Alcorn, Heaven.
Last week, we laid to rest our four-legged family member and friend. Chloe was a 5-year old, 145 lb. American Mastiff, who in life was literally a huge presence, and now in death leaves a huge hole; both in our home and in our hearts.John and I first met her as a 2-week-old, and I had the opportunity to bottle-feed her. She was small enough then to lay easily on my lap with her head and bottle in my one hand. Once she was grown, my hand could only compare to the size of her paw. She had a massive head and jaws, but would take a treat from me in the most ginger of ways. I always thought she had the head of a bear and the body of a lion - she was beautiful, and it was a joy to watch her long, easy stride as she walked. It was also terribly impressive to feel the house shake when she leapt into the air to catch a toy. One of her favorite games was to chase the flashlight beam, and every evening she would stand patiently in front of John asking him to get the flashlight. If he didn't get the flashlight when she wanted, she woofed at him - and her woofs were hard to ignore.
Chloe woofed a lot. Her woofs were very distinct, as anyone with a dog knows. She had an "I -am-sitting-down-now" woof, a "let me out" woof as well as a "let me in" woof. (Pet owners are, after all, simply doormen.) Her "someone is here" woof was extremely intimidating to whomever was outside the door, and she also had lots of complaining, whining noises, too. We thought she sounded a great deal like Star War's Chewbacca when she was complaining about something. We miss the sounds she made - her woofs, her whines, and her human-sounding walking in the house. We miss her.As we drove home from the vet the day she was put to sleep, I found myself wondering - as if I were 5-years old - where was Chloe now? Was she romping the hills of heaven? Or was she simply gone? Who can say for sure? We do know that God considers animals to be very important, not made in God's image as man is, but a part of His creation upon which he pronounced good. Eden wouldn't have been Eden without the animals, created as helpers and companions for men. They were given a special relationship to man, and he was to care for and nurture them. In fact, of all God's creation, He gave to man the right and responsibility to name the animals. Considering this unique kind of relationship man has with the animals - perfect in Eden - it seems likely that when God brings us finally to the New Heavens and the New Earth, He will restore the animals right along with the rest of the earth and creation. Does this mean I get to see my Chloe again? I don't know, but I'd like to think so. Is it wrong to grieve the death of our pets with whom we have such a unique relationship? No. God gave them to us to love and it is a true loss when they're gone. God gave Chloe as a blessing to us, and I'm thankful for all that that means."In her excellent book about Heaven, Joni Eareckson Tada says, 'If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn't surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character ... Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy - utterly, joyfully surprisingly superfluous ... Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness and joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.'"
"In a poem about the world to come, theologian John Piper writes,
'And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream-
Almost-and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere
I turned I saw a wonder there." (Randy Alcorn, Heaven)
Maybe I'll see my Chloe in heaven after all.