Some months back while we were living at the old house, our little dog Rocky, started some odd behaviour. It started happening quite out of the blue. He’s always been a smoocher and a lapdog. But all of a sudden, he would get up from off the lounge or off the bed or wherever he was sitting/lying at the time, and start pacing around in a rather hunched over way – you know, tail tucked down, ears back, back arched. He would walk behind curtains, under tables, up against the lounge. He’d sit down or stand still for a moment and then be on the move again. He would start slapping his gums as though over-salivating although there wasn’t any druel. Sometimes he would end up shaking, as though he was cold and that would last up to half an hour before he’d go back to normal.
I took him to the vet and they took blood tests which showed he was in perfect health. Fantastic. They said it must be behavioural because he has an anxious temperament anyway and if it doesn’t change in a fortnight to take him back for further tests and to see what they could do behaviourally for him. So after a few days things settled down and it seemed he was ok. Until recently.
In the last 10 days or so, the same behaviour has started up again. However, it has become more intense. When he starts, he has become extremely clingy and lies all over me or Derek or my mum, across our belly, legs, up against us, along our backs and heads if we’re in bed, over our feet, over our chest, as though he almost wants to get inside us! He doesn’t stay still, he’s up and moving to another spot in just seconds. This has been incredibly difficult when it happens during the night because it means both of us or one of us can’t sleep. Yes, we could put him out of our bedroom but then he would cry and we would feel too concerned for him, he is our baby after all :-). Following this manic behaviour, he starts shaking and this might last up to 15 minutes or so. Following that, he pants profusely for another ten minutes or so and then collapses, exhausted.
Now, based on this information, it may be obvious to you what’s wrong with Rocky. You may be a vet and know exactly what these symptoms indicate. But for me and Derek we didn’t have a clue. We weren’t sure if it was behavioural because he was upset that there’s two other dogs living here or because after 2 months or so he’s feeling anxious about living in the new house, or what.
However, with the growing distress of the situation for him, last week in the middle of the night as he lay in my arms panting and then finally collapsed, I prayed to the Lord and said “If You’re going to take him home, please don’t let him suffer and just take him quickly”. The next day, Derek told me he had prayed the same thing that night.
You see, Derek and I are finally coming to realise that we can’t hold on to anything in ‘this life’. Even the dearest little innocent loves of our lives that bring us such joy and comfort. Even these little ones, we cannot hold onto. Everything in ‘this life’ comes to an end. Nothing here, lasts forever.
We also understand that sometimes God needs to remove things that we would hold onto in such a way that we may neglect or reject His calling in our lives. For example, if God wanted Derek and I to move to another state or were in a situation where we could only live in a unit or a caravan, our love for our little Rocky just might be the very thing that would prevent us from following in obedience. I’m just talking hypothetically here, but you get the picture.
The thing is, God knows what it is in ‘this life’ that will hold us back from following Him wholeheartedly and with full abandonment. Just look at the rich young ruler in Luke. Of-course, it will be different for each one of us. But Jesus said;
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life…(Mark 10:29, 30)
And in Mark 8:35-36 we read;
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?…
Well, to continue with my story on Rocky, as I’m sure you’re worried and upset now, wondering what’s happening with him! That very night that I prayed that as he lay in my arms, completely passed out, I heard a voice. A calm, definite voice rose from within my spirit, saying “they’re seizures”. I knew this was the voice of the Lord, my God, who cares for the animals so evidently seen in the Psalms.
So the next day I called the vet and told her his symptoms again and that I was certain he was having seizures. She instructed me to bring him in immediately and as a result she put him on epilepsy medication. It’s only been four days since he started his morning and night medication, but he’s been 3 days without a turn. He is playing with his favourite red ball and is sleeping soundly and is almost back to his old chipper self. Great news huh? Thank You Lord. 🙂
The thing is, everything in this earth is temporal. Jobs, houses, relationships, health, possessions, riches, Rocky’s little body and my body and your body, the bodies of all we love and those we don’t even know, are all temporal. They are mortal. That is how it is here. However, for us who are in Christ, the Word tells us that one day, the mortal shall put on immortality. The corruptible shall put on the incorruptible.
This is because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus, having been resurrected, and the first-born from among the dead, is now in His incorruptible form and we too, will take on an incorruptible form as He has. Though we are not and will never be divine, we share in His Divine Life. We live today as believers, by His Divine Life in us.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die (John 11:25,26)
…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead (Rev 1:5)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.…(1Corinth 15:20,22)
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power (1 Corinth 15:42,43)
I know the day will come when God will take Rocky home. He will take my mum home, my husband home, my sister, etc, just as He took my dad home. It’s painful. It’s going to be painful. Perhaps you’re going through that same pain right now. Or perhaps you’re being asked to give something up that stands in the way of God’s call on your life. Only you know. But I pray that all of us, God’s people, the church, will learn to not hold on to the temporal, but enjoy what we have while we have it, treat it well, love it well, and let it go when we’re called to, for Jesus’ sake and the sake of His gospel.