God’s Teachers, Dogs

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  St Francis

Being an adult is overrated.

 

In the kingdom of God, childlike faith counts for a lot more than a high IQ.  The only attitude that counts is humility.  Job’s advice to kingdom seekers?   “Ask the beasts and the birds of the air and they shall tell thee.”  We tell our dog what to do all the time.  Maybe we should ask him a few things.   Perhaps we should start groaning like the creation and making unintelligible sounds like babies.

The animal kingdom is in touch with God.

Ask my dog, Ozzie.

God’s creatures practice the presence of God by being creatures.  God’s kingdom also includes children.  Isaiah states, “A little child will lead them” and “the baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.”   We are not talking about some distant kingdom but the here and now.  Babies and little children are innocent and fearless.  Like our dog Ozzie, only God knows their speech.

Before Ozzie, there was Pepper.

One of my coworkers had a mutt that needed a home. Now, twelve years later, Pepper is family. We have grown older together.  Our daily walks are more of a time to stop and leave mail than the chasing of rabbits.  I’ve also noticed that Pepper and I are groaning more than we used to.  “In Statu Viae,” describes the universe’s journey.  It is a journey of groans    Paul offers his explanation of why we groan: “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”  (Rom. 8:22-24) I groan.  Pepper groaned. The trees groan. God gives us the gift of groaning to remind us of the unseen hand of providence. If you have ever wondered what Providencece” sounds like, listen to nature’s groaning.  The next time you hear someone or something groan, remember three things:

1) God does what he pleases. The next time I hear the wind groan, I hope to remember Psalm 115:3 Ps. 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.”  The sound of groaning is God’s way of reminding us; I am in charge, and you are not.

2)  God gives man freedom.  Since the fall, mankind is destined to work by the sweat of our brow.  Our work is a sign of freedom and also our way of participating in the groaning of the universe.

3)  Try Not to Worry.   Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?”… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”

 

What is the best way for modern day man to practice God’s presence?    A recent biographer of Francis of Assisi describes his uncanny relationship with the animal kingdom.  His personal physician treats his diseased eyes with a red-hot brand. Francis made the sign of the Cross over the iron and said: “My Brother Fire, noble and useful among all the creatures the Highest created, be courtly to me in this hour. For a long time, I have loved you, and I still love you for the love of that Lord who created you. I pray our Creator, who made you, to temper your heat now, so that I may bear it.”

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