If you’re not a dog-lover, you might not fully understand this. If you are a dog-lover, then you’ll know that all dogs are special in their own way, but some are head and shoulders above the rest. Those are the once, maybe twice in a lifetime dogs, and they can tear your heart apart when they leave you. Well, today, I lost my second ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buddy.
His name was Chip, and he was a good, happy and sweet, sweet dog. He used to sit and watch TV with me – for real. He loved animal shows and would sit through an entire three hour football game with me. He was always happy, listened to his Mommy and Daddy and got along with his brother and sister. But, at only 9 1/2 years of age, he developed intestinal cancer. The last few days, he had stopped eating and drinking, and he seemed to be in growing discomfort. He even stopped playing with his brother and sister. I hated to do it, but my wife and I decided we would put him down before things got really bad for him. Making him suffer for our sake would be the height of selfishness, so we said good-bye today. He went happy, giving us and the nurse kisses right up to the very end. I will miss him dearly.
But I didn’t post this just to share my grief. I have Fakebook for that. No, I posted this because I realized that many of us care more for our pets than we do for each other, and that is what caused a piece of my heart to die. I will miss Chip, but he was a dog, not a person. Time will heal that scar, but I am not so sure it will heal the hole I have from realizing just how self-centered and depraved I have become.
Don’t worry, I am not going to address anyone else here. I am content to point the finger at myself. YHWH knows I have plenty of guilt to keep me busy. How many times have I refused to do something to help my wife, who I love more than anything else in this world? And why did I do it? Because I loved me some me more than I love her. She deserves better, and I promised better to her in my vows. I AM GUILTY!
How many times did our friend, Bill, ask me to do something for him, but I made excuses because I just didn’t want to do it? He always did what I asked of him, but I didn’t do the slightest thing he asked of me. We parted with harsh words and bad feelings, and now he’s gone forever. I was wrong; he was right. I was a bad friend. And I find I am the same way with nearly everyone I call friend. Oh, sure, I’ll take, but how much do I bother to give? I’ll tell you: not nearly enough. I AM GUILTY!
And what about all the people on the edges of my life: how often do I give of myself to help them? Don’t worry, I’ll answer that question, too. The answer is never! I honestly cannot remember the last time I gave myself to anyone unless I wanted to, or I could get something in return. This makes me a user. I AM GUILTY!
So, I am an unloving husband, a bad friend and a user of others. That’s it, I can’t take anymore. I am not even going to peak at how I have acted toward YHWH. I already know. I’d be better of taking myself to the lake of fire and saving Him the time of having to bother with a piece of filthy trash such as me. The only hope I have is in His Grace and the sacrifice of His Son. I am totally unworthy of either, but, unless they somehow look past my filth and cover me, I am already lost.
Now, just imagine, this world is filled with people just like me, but the vast majority of them don’t realize how filthy they are. Even if they were to ignore how they look in the eyes of YHWH and focus just on how they look to their family, friends and acquaintances, they still wouldn’t measure up to their own standards of ‘good.’ No one does — not if they are honest with themselves. So, why do these same people all think they have the magic solutions to the world’s problems? They all know what other people have to do or how others have to change to fix everything, but they never seem to see their own reflections in the morality mirror.
Well, folks, I am going to share a secret with you. You cannot control anything or anyone in this world unless they surrender to you — and that still isn’t control. If they surrender, you didn’t force it, they gave in to it. In other words, they made a choice. No, the only things we can control is our own thinking and our own attitude. Surprisingly, however, that is enough to change this world. If, instead of worrying about everyone else, we worried about us and only us, things would start to change.
If we want our family to love us, then we should focus on loving them the way we wish to be loved, first. If we wish to have good friends, maybe we should focus on being a good friend, first. If we wish to meet kind people, maybe we should work at being kind, first. Why can’t we see how simple it all is? Rather than trying to change people we cannot and should not try to change, why don’t we change ourselves to meet the standards we would force on others? I bet, if we all tried this, we might just find that the world works exactly the way Scripture teaches us it works, and we might even solve a few of our problems in the process.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking as I reflected on the loss of an animal that gave to me all the things I refuse to give to the people I love. I only wish I hadn’t had to learn it from an animal. I wish I had had someone in my life who loved me enough to have taught me these things. Someone I could have thanked and loved in return. But, now that I see how blind I have been — and how selfish — I am going to try to find others that I can teach, and I’ll try hard to teach them by my example. I am going to try harder than ever to love people, to really love them. I am not going to give them advice, or money. I am going to start giving them me: my time. If I am lucky, very lucky, maybe I’ll even manage to get one other person to do the same.
YHWH Bless, and stay safe.