September 8, 2014
In our family of 4 children and much later 5 we had our requisite number of pets while I was growing up; cats, fish, and the occasional tadpoles that we would catch in a local creek with the idea that we would nurse them into frogs. Well mostly we had little tadpole corpses floating in mason jars. But it was our beagle Susie who was the constant through my childhood. I don’t know how old I was when we got her. Suffice it to say I have no memory of that event; she was just always there. I think my dad got her with the hopes that she would be a hunting dog but that never transpired. She was “gun shy” for some reason and the roar of a shot gun only made her run and hide. To think of her as a hunting dog is somewhat difficult since she looked more like a sausage on legs. She had weight problems. That didn’t prevent her from trying! We had a large hill behind our house covered with tall brown grass and an assortment of jagger bushes and weeds. I can hear her now running across that hillside barking and chasing those rascally rabbits.
She wasn’t my dog. In many ways she wasn’t anyone’s dog… just the family dog I guess. She didn’t tag along when I or my sisters went out to play. And we didn’t really play with her much either. Mostly we fed her daily (including table scraps AND chicken bones) and pretty much left her alone. Like I said, she provided “consistency” in my life and I believe in the life of my family.
When I turned 14 my world changed dramatically. I have documented the changes in other writings so I won’t bore you with them again. Suffice it to say I went to live with my father and my stepmother and Susie came along. Her life changed also. For her entire existence she had been permitted to roam at will as there were no leash laws where we lived. But our new locale required her to be chained 24 hours a day. She had never been an indoor pet so her dog house was at the top of our property at the farthest point from the house. My job after school each day was to bring her food and water.
In the Fall and Winter it was dark by the time I walked the hill to see her. I could hear her come out of the dog house as the chain rubbed against the floor or the side of the opening. I guess I was 16 the day I didn’t hear the chain. I called her name but… nothing. I found her plump body lying in the grass, still and cold. I fell apart. She was one more connection to my childhood and in some ways a previous life that was now gone. I didn’t know what to do. I was so distraught. I left a note on the table for my dad and I went to a friend’s house. When I got home he had already buried her. Not unlike my childhood and most of my family… just… gone.
I was so thankful for my friend that day. I just didn’t want to be alone. Do you know what I mean? He didn’t have to say anything, or do anything… just be there. I’m sure this passage out of Genesis has much more significance than my dog dying but… Genesis 2:18 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone…”
The truth is we are social creatures. We are built to need others, especially when we are in crisis. Even the most introverted people still need to have loved ones around them. I think this extends to the church as well. We are not designed to go the Christian Faith by ourselves. It is essential that we have a supporting cast of Believers around us if we expect to walk the walk.
Paul wrote 12 or 13 of the New Testament letters (depending on who’s counting). By far the most intimate and loving of those letters is written to the Christians in Philippi. I’m struck by the affection and love Paul shows for and to them in these words in chapter 1. They obviously were an important part of his life and faith walk.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Friends, I don’t know what your life looks like. And I don’t know who you have supporting you. I can only hope and pray that if you are a Christian, you are reinforced by other Believers who care about you and walk with you through the mine fields of this life.
There are days when it doesn’t seem like we will make it without them.