Saturday our pet cat (Bob) passed away. He had been ill for a few days, and the vet gave him some meds. I spent some time with him, nursing him along, and he seemed to be improving until Saturday evening when he un-expectantly died.
He was a great companion, and at a time like this, sometimes we do a lot of reflecting, and reviewing our memories. What amazed me was the impact the little guy had on us. Whenever he was around us, he just couldn’t give us enough attention and love. When I was busy working on something, or building something, it really wasn’t the right time for him to express his affection. Nevertheless, he didn’t care what we thought, or said, we just couldn’t offend him.
It was as I was pondering this, that it occurred to me just how unconditional his affection was. He at no time seemed to take into account all the conditions of our lives, before he felt we would be worthy of his attention. He was never offended by what we were doing, saying or anything of that sort. His affection was unconditional, and even if we pushed him away, because we were busy, he immediately returned with more affection, and he seemed to never accept our in-attention as rejection.
Up to this time, I had been teaching on God’s unconditional love for the prior three weeks, exploring the depths of how much God loves us; unconditionally and without obligation; so you can see where some connections were made upon my mind, as I pondered the memories of Bob in my life. Sadly, it seems sometimes our appreciation is greater when we lose something. Bob lived a good full life, much appreciated, and yet unknown to him, taught us a lot.
His affection seemed un-conditional; we could not do anything to cause him to reject us. He was a typical cat, so sometimes he could get a little snooty, but that aside, he always came running to us when he saw or heard us outside. He postponed many a hunting trips just to sit beside us, and rub against us, and he would always sneak a few licks to my hand. (Wasn’t sure if he licked my hand for the salt, or because he liked me.) What did I learn?
A couple of things occurred to me as I was reflecting. First, our view of God’s love generally is so twisted that it takes a simple creation of God, sent into our lives, to help us understand how much God really loves us! You cannot offend God’s love for you, there is absolutely nothing that you could ever do, to get God angry with you, because Jesus paid the price and was a satisfying sacrifice for us. So why all the confusion about God’s love? Simply, because the far majority has never experienced un-conditional love, only conditional love. In most Christians world, if you do good, your deserving of love and recognition, however, if you do bad, you must be punished. That’s not Gods love, and even Bob a little cat, didn’t base his affection on our behavior.
Religion is very confusing, God’s love and grace always brings clarity. Everything must be filtered through the finished work of the cross, God’s complete redemption! Which has been revealed; the undiluted pure love of God, a love that is never offended, and pursues us; once we are captivated by His love, His love alone (no help from the law) leads us to the flawless place of perpetual rest. Religion likes to give a dose of grace (God’s favor) with an appropriate (in their minds) amount of the law, (list of do’s and don’ts). This is called mixture, and you can’t put new wine in old wine skins; it will burst, and you lose it all. God’s love is so rich, pure and captivating that it alone will lead us to His rest, requiring no help from an obsolete law. Wherever the law is added, subsequently you must perform in order to achieve acceptance, and qualify for His love and blessings. That performance is called self-righteousness, and as long as you operate this way, you are allowing the ministry of death and condemnation into your life; and they won’t disappoint. They will produce first condemnation, afterwards death. Just think if our pets required performance from us in order to achieve their affection. We would not have pets if that were the case. We have pets because no matter what we do, they remain faithful.
The great news is God’s love remains faithful, never condemning, always accepting, and because of the cross, we are qualified. As He is so are we in this world! Is Jesus qualified? So are you. Is Jesus loved and accepted by the Father? So are you! Jesus took your bad so that you could always have His good! If God can use an ass, (Num 22:28) then He certainly can use our precious pets, to show us His goodness.
The second point brought to my attention: When we lose anything precious in our lives, we experience regret, and condemn ourselves. It has been many years since this has happened that I had forgotten this point. I was amazed at my own thoughts of regret and condemnation toward myself, thinking “if I would have done this,” or “if I did that different, he would still be alive.” If you have read or heard any of the messages, I’ve taught on condemnation, you know that condemnation kills. Romans 8:1 there is NO condemnation for us in Christ. You can always find a reason to condemn yourself, but don’t do it. Jesus was condemned so that you would never again be condemned. What happened, happened so I refuse to live in regret, or condemn myself for any reason. Whether it is a person, or as in this case, a pet, regret and condemnation will put you back into the performance mode, blaming yourself for not “doing” enough, then before you know it, your back into the law. This is a trap, don’t get pulled into it! Focus on God’s great love for you, and rest in His grace.
Bob will be greatly missed, and I’m thankful we had him in our lives; he was a joy, and unbeknownst to him, a pretty good teacher too. God’s love is so amazing. He knows when a sparrow falls upon the ground, He loves what I love, because He is one with me, God sees our animals as special and significant, so how could this love not have a special reunion planned for us and our pets. Father, thank you for your love and acceptance, and reveal to us your length, breadth, width, and depth of your love, and we will be filled with ALL the fullness of God! God bless everyone, and your special pets also!