Sunday, December 25, 2005
Pictured: Girl in Ireland, me and Tubby, and two photos of my older cat Bonita, 14 yrs, playing with her tail and traveling in the car after 13 years of never traveling!
A program just aired (Nov 2005) on TV showing the SPCA and the humane society rescuing animals after Katrina hit New Orleans. This causes me to reflect, once again, on my love for animals and my feelings towards my two cats. I also thought back to animals in the past.
A statement was made something to the effect that man's feelings towards animals are simple yet overwhelming and unexplainable. Yes, I know what they mean. Who can explain why we bond so deeply with them? Is it because we fall in love with innocence? Do we love small creatures the size of human infants who, though they cannot talk, invoke strong, loving feelings?
Really, not taking it for granted, it is incredible to think of having a creature that shares breathing and blood coursing through its veins with us, yet is a different species. The fact that they are not human leaves a mystery as to what they think and feel. So, there is endless fascination watching them play, sleep or clean themselves. They are often clever and humorous, especially when they mimic humans.
I have had animals live with me day in and day out for about 15 years now. Maybe it is hard to comprehend that I look forward to being with these creatures as much as I can, and that their effect is so profoundly soothing that I would write about them. I find it hard to be alone and also without my cats at the same time. I was experiencing for the first time the powerful presence of God in Toronto, after which I would go back to my motel and find that the presence was with me. I was happy to be alone with God. But something was definiely missing without my cats, so that now I prefer to have them also in my hotel.
Yes, the gentle, unselfish loving touch of an animal puts me MORE in tune with the creator.
There is little theology regarding animals. I have even encountered negative attitudes amongst some Christians regarding animals. I've had well-meaning Christians try to turn me against my animals, even saying they were my idols, or just to be disposed of. In fact, the health of a group of Christians can be measured, in part, by their attitudes regarding animals.
Part of the reason for this is the bizarre, schizophrenic thinking espoused by certain misbeliefs and fears that have fermented in dealing with certain aspects of our sin nature. Some who try to embrace Christ and the gospel, are so afraid of or grieved by sexual sin that they absolutely hate their bodies and deny the natural part of us - our spirits encased in flesh and blood.
They so hate the body and have come to the conclusion that since God destroyed life in the flood and is going to eventually destroy (and rebuild) the earth, that He rejects every natural and physical aspect of the earth. The birth of Jesus - a tiny baby born of a woman who was not a god but just a woman, helps to reconstruct God's true image.
Ministers such as Smith Wigglesworth who through prayer and faith watched whole feet, limbs, eyes etc. grow onto people whose parts were missing, based on the healer (Jesus) who grew back the ear on the Roman soldier, also tells a different story about the true God. "The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof" David the Psalmist says.
Many Christians in bondage believe that affliction, disease, and deformity come from God and that these are necessary to "purge" us. One lady who is internationally reknowned and touted as a great Christian leader, claims that if she was not a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, then instead of serving God, all she would do is play tennis.
What does this say about all of us who are not quadriplegic? She glorifies her pain and suffering every day. Yet she is looked to as a great authority on the subject of affliction and as a lover of God. Why does her God say to her that he wants her afflicted when MY GOD speaks to me every day about how He is planning to restore my foot and leg from a bad car wreck?
What I want to say to her and to you is this: why did God form your little body in the womb all perfect, with five little toes and perfect little hands, only to bring you into the world and crush that body to live the rest of your life with it? I know that this woman went through a terrible trauma, and emerged with a tremendous fear that she hasn't resolved.
But, this negative thinking about the physical world extends to animals. We are to be only spiritual, is the thinking of some, and anything natural, such as animals, is not fit for our time or energy.
How much has been written about the purpose of animals in our lives - this great resource for coping with our emotional and spiritual ills? How well do we understand the Word Of God regarding animals?
It might be hard to defend the importance animals have for us. That's why we need to look at the biblical history of animals in relation to man to find out what God thinks. It is amazing.
More on this later - I have to go eat Christmas dinner - alone with my animals.
(kidding -not exactly alone)
OX AND ASS BEFORE HIM BOW, AND THE FRIENDLY BEASTS
AROUND HIM STOOD
At Christmas time it reminds me of the great purpose God had for animals in the birth of His son Jesus - born in a stable. Animals are special to God. Notice how much detail God put into regarding animals when he finally speaks to Job. He asks Job if he created the sea creature Leviathan, and goes on to describe the scales and fiery breath, along with other animals. He seems extremely proud of them.
Job states that animals and the earth know God better than man. They know who is in charge. Job 12: 7-10 reads, "But now ask the beasts and they will teach you, the birds of the air and they will tell you, or speak to the earth and it will teach you, and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind?"
Animals weere present during the most significant events in history. Animals were used by God to care for man, even for his only son Jesus. But let's start at the beginning.
Animals were present in the garden of Eden. Man lived surrounded by them without fear. The rich paradise was made richer by the variety of animals that surrounded Adam and Eve. All were tame. We need to stop and consider what nature does to show us the beauty of our creator. Think of the flower "Bird of paradise" and the gazelle. The threat to nature is a threat to our sanity. Though nature has been harsh to us as well, given the need for conquering nature, it still ultimately heals us. Man lives estranged from the Eden life, the life surrounded by nature - to his hurt.
The next event is the great flood. Animals were present on The Ark, as the people passed through 40 days and 40 nights of terror floating on pure water over the whole earth and braving the endless storm. I can't help but believe that the animals played a significant role, bringing the people "down to earth" (so to speak) emotionally and mentally. They provided comfort and peace.
I'm sure the animals were peaceful because most of them went into a state of hibernation during the event. This was stated in a TV special about the flood produced by a group of historians. They also said that at the time of the flood, there were not as many species of animals as today, so the feeding and care of them was within the reach of Noah and his family.
Animals have an amazing consistency and constancy, often behaving as if nothing is wrong. At the same time, they also signal man that something is wrong, as they pick up on it with a keen sensitivity, many times beyond man's ability.
And that brings us back to the birth of Jesus - the next major event. It makes so much sense to me that animals were involved. Jesus was forced to stay out of the inn, but that was God's idea - a brilliant idea! The spirits that surrounded the people of Jesus' day could have been some viscious demons. We all attract demons if we are not grounded in the love of God and if we have not "sold out" to knowing God. Many ordinary people are neither of these. Being in the inn meant the baby would not have been safe with demons around. Being in the stable, the animals' gentle spirits were a tonic for the baby - mind and emotions.
We have not defined the spirit within an animal, yet many are so aware that there is a divine spirit within their domestic pets that cats and dogs have been called angels (in the fur.) I believe that animals have been given a spirit by God and are a dispensation of God's love and grace.
A spirit keeps an animal alive, as do our own spirits and leaves them when they die. They are spotless in regards to sin because they cannot sin. They have not been given a will or the choices that we have. They are more or less programmed by God to do what they do. They are a gift. Their affection is pure. it is devoid of unwanted sexual advances and other selfish motives.
Women were reported in 2005 as saying that they get more affection from their pets than from their men. Funny!
But sometimes it is the only affection a person is getting. When we are grieved by man and vexed by man's imperfections, we want to turn to animals. This can be healthy, but it can turn into something unhealthy if we do not keep a balance. Animals were not meant to replace our relationship with man. And animals are not gods, they are gifts from THE God.
Animals have been present in cases in the bible when people separated from other people. Paul the apostle went into a hermitage in the wilderness where animals were present. David the psalmist was a shepherd before he was a king (and I adore sheep). John the baptist lived in the wilderness, ate locusts and honey, and had plenty of animals and plants keeping him company. Daniel experienced God's power over lions in the den, and there he was at last surrounded by big, friendly cats.
Animals can heal us. Supposedly our domestic pets bring down blood pressure.
God has given man animals for several important purposes:
1. As a companion.
2. As food that is acceptable for man. Jordan Rubin points out in his book that certain animals were forbidden in the bible for food, and that has a practical, health basis that we can determine today. Cats, dogs and horses fall into this category, so it is no wonder these animals ended up being our pets instead.
We found out that these animals had many uses and were great companions instead of good for food. Cats were discovered by the Egyptians as useful for getting rid of various forms of vermin that destroyed their stored grains; dogs were discovered long before for herding cattle, aiding in hunting, protection from burglars, and as enjoyable companions; horses - well, that one is easy - good for tranportation and also good companions.
3. As a source of things needed by man - fur, ivory, etc.
4. As a sacrificial offering for sin.
A lamb was used in sacrifice BEFORE the Eternal Lamb Of God made the final sacrifice, and it makes sense because animals are so innocent. It is interesting that animals sacrifice their lives for us for food and were also giving up their lives for a sin offering. We can see how God has a plan in which animals were given to us in love. Once again, nature reveals the wisdom of God.
Proverbs 12: 10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal.
Ps 36: 5-10 You save humans and animals...
Passage in Psalms - God says: "all the beasts of the forest are mine, the cattle on a thousand hills." That is an amazing passage when you think that there are many owners of cattle, and each would claim full ownership of his own cattle, yet God says, "no, I own them all!"