What Others Say

Every time I read one of your columns, I am always touched and moved in some way. Your heart and spirit come through clearly in your words. It's an oasis of comfort and serenity in a time when everything is so chaotic and unsettling.
- M Gardner, Deputy Managing Editor, Galveston Daily News

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What About The Animals That Helped Us Survive Covid?

 My aunt once asked me if there will be animals in Heaven.  Perhaps it is a good question to ask during this season when pets have played such an important role in helping us survive Covid.  When many of us have had to distance from family, friends, co-workers and classmates our pets have stepped up.  The CDC says that pets, especially dogs, help our social, emotional and mental development. Of course most of us don’t need the CDC to tell us this.  Our pets become part of the family. If they are that important on earth,  will there be animals in heaven?

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the twentieth century theologian and martyr, once counseled a ten-year-old boy whose German Shepherd died.  The boy was distraught. He asked Bonhoeffer if his dog would be in Heaven.  Bonhoeffer said, “I quickly made up my mind and said to him: ‘Look, God created human beings and also animals, and I’m sure he also loves animals.  And I believe that with God it is such that all who loved each other on earth – genuinely loved each other – will remain together with God …”

 Man, of course, was made in God’s image. God breathed into us the breath of life and we became a living soul. But God’s love for all creatures in his creation is abundantly clear.  When God made the world and all that is in it, he included the animal kingdom.  After He had divided the light from darkness, brought form out of chaos and fashioned the continents and oceans, He filled the earth with living things: fish, birds and beasts (in that order).  Before man ever walked the earth, when the world was as God planned it to be, “God saw that it was good.”

After sin entered the world, mankind sank deeper into selfishness, deceit, violence, murder and rebellion. When God’s judgment could be postponed no longer, He sent a catastrophic flood. But God showed his love for man and beast by providing a means of escape through Noah’s ark. God instructed Noah, “You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” (Genesis 6:19-21). God’s love for all living things was further reflected in Jesus’ statement that not one sparrow falls to the ground outside the Father’s care.

Looking forward to the day when the Messiah’s Kingdom would replace our world, Isaiah wrote: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

If God so loved us that he blessed us with the companionship and service of animals on earth and chose them to surround the birth of His Son, would He withhold His love from us in heaven by depriving us of these creatures who shared our mortal joys and sorrows? Is it possible that having demonstrated his glory in the beauty and balance of nature in this world that the new heaven and the new earth would be limited to men and angels?

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Mothers Day

 

Countries around the world set aside a special day for mothers. It is celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the U.S. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India, Brazil, Germany, Ethiopia and the Philippines. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mothers Day an official holiday starting on May 8, 1914. Still other nations honor mothers on different dates.

 This week husbands, sons and daughters will don their masks and struggle to keep their distance while searching for the perfect Mothers Day card.  Florists will put on extra staff to handle the demand. Many families will test pandemic restrictions to take their mothers out to eat.

 Regardless of our nationality, ethnicity or gender, we were each carried in our mother’s womb, given birth through her labor and, in almost all cases, nursed and nourished to life by her care.  

 No office and no position wields greater power and influence over the future of humanity than the influence of a mother.  The memories and lessons given in infancy at a mother’s hand surpass every other classroom and instruction.  The faith of a mother inspires and instructs more effectively than any pulpit or pen.

 We see it in history, and we see it in the Bible.

 In a log cabin in Kentucky, Nancy Hanks Lincoln recognized the early gifts in her child.  She not only taught him to read, but instructed him in the principles that would shape his life.  Without Nancy, and Sarah, who became Lincoln’s step mother after Nancy died, it is unlikely that Abraham Lincoln would have ever surfaced to lead our nation in its greatest hour of crisis.

 If it were not for Moses’ mother, the world would have never known the great law-giver who led Israel from captivity and gave us the Ten Commandments.  It was she who hid him in the reeds at the river to save his infant life and it was she who cared for him in Pharaoh’s court. 

 How many mothers have petitioned God for the birth of a child, as Hannah prayed in the presence of Eli, the prophet?  Without her prayer, Samuel would not have been born, and would not have been present to anoint David, the king of Israel.

 In the fullness of time, in an obscure Galilean village, another young woman  lifted up her eyes to heaven and sang, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His handmaiden; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For He that is mighty has done to me great things, and holy is His name.” (Luke 1:46-49).  Without Mary we would never have known Jesus, and the world would remain lost in its sins without a Savior.

 Paul referred to the importance of a mother’s faith when he wrote to his young protégé, Timothy: “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”  (2 Timothy 1:5). 

This Mother’s Day we honor all our mothers who have shaped us and made a better world.  It also stands as a challenge to all those young women who give birth to the next generation and shape the future of the world to come.