Over the last year we have been able to interact with many who have shared a similar experience / who share a love for dogs. I've received emails and phone calls from complete strangers who read 'Goodbye Shady' and entered into our story / shared their story. I've had some wonderful conversations discussing the question, will our pets be in heaven? I have found great encouragement from the words of Dr. Billy Graham: God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there.
As many of you know, we now share our home with another dog; an energetic Black Lab cross we have named Chara. As I reflect back over the past year, I am amazed at the life lessons learned from our dogs. Shady reminds me of the power of memories; that there is joy and healing grace in sharing memories and telling stories about those who have gone before us. I often pray that God will flood the hearts of minds of those dealing with loss with good memories of a loved one who has left us; it's a sincere prayer because I understand just how powerful memories can be.
Shady also reminds be just how beautiful it is to share life together. Sometimes our journey together is for a long season and sometimes we only travel the path together for a short time, but that which makes life so rich and meaningful is sharing it with those with love; with the family of God; such blessing is one we dare not take for granted.
Having a puppy these past few months has helped me understand again the sacrifice that is necessary to build into lives of those we care about. On our recent trip back to Ontario, I choose to take Chara with us rather than board her. It meant always having to be with her, being restricted in where we could go and what we could do and having to put her needs above our own interests, which is not always easy because we are all selfish to one degree or another. In this the words of Jesus come to mind: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Perhaps the greatest reminder in all this is the simple but powerful truth that life is a gift; a wonderful from the hand of a good and gracious God. Because this gift is so wonderful, it is indeed hard to say goodbye, even though we understand in Christ, goodbye is only for a season, until we meet again. I am encouraged to embrace this gift and live out my life purposefully and joyfully, serving God and blessing others--such a life is the only life worth living. That I get to share this gift with family and friends, including our four-legged friends, only adds to the blessing of the gift and creates a deeper sense of gratitude and worship for the GIver of the gift!