“All the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine.” (Psalm 50:10-11)
Trooper was in the kitchen trash can again this morning. I heard him lift the lid with his nose and rummage around. He eats trash, this comical dog the Lord gave us. The Compulsive-Trash-Eating-Habit must come from the knot on his head (we say he must’ve been dropped at birth) and that must also be why he never really responds when we yell “Trooper No!” Or maybe he just thinks we named him one long T-r-o-o-p-e-r-n-o-!
God seems to have given us this sweet, clownish pup as an ever-constant example of life lived with exuberance (he eats the trash with a lot of excitement) and all-out love (he adores us even when we’re annoyed with him.) Trooper’s quirky habits rank really high on any dog-idiosyncrasy chart: He sleeps flat on his back with his legs straight and stiff in the air, and he’ll lay for hours like that in our front yard — neighbors have even stopped to check for a heartbeat. And his 80-pound subservience to our 9-pound cat’s bossiness is both sad (for him) and funny (to watch). In so many ways, this endearing animal brings laughter to our home.
I think of Trooper when I read Joni Eareckson Tada’s thoughts on dogs and heaven and God’s lavish love for us, His children:
“If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character … Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy — utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous … Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness and joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children.” (Joni Eareckson Tada, Holiness in Hidden Places – this excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives, p. 432)
And when I read John Piper’s poem:
And as I knelt beside the brook to drink eternal life, I took a glance across the golden grass, and saw my dog, old Blackie, fast as she could come.
She leaped the stream — almost — and what a happy gleam was in her eye.
I knelt to drink, and knew that I was on the brink of endless joy. And everywhere I turned I saw a wonder there.
And all that’s left is joy,
And endless ages to employ the mind and heart, and understand, and love the sovereign Lord who planned that it should take eternity to lavish all his grace on me.
(John Piper, Future Grace – this excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives, p. 433)
Heaven and the life to come
If you haven’t discovered Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives, I highly recommend it (even if you’re not a pet-lover.) At more than 400 pages, it’s a compilation of quotations on heaven, the new earth and life after death. These quotes, by Joni Eareckson Tada and John Piper, are merely two of the more than one-thousand collected quotes gathered in Alcorn’s volume (these two, obviously, are from the chapter on pets.) I haven’t read it straight through — I’ve skipped around. Each chapter covers a different topic, beginning with scripture and followed by quotes collected from hundreds of different authors — from C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards to J.C. Ryle and Charles Spurgeon. No matter the chapter’s topic, my heart lifts toward Christ, and heaven, and the joys to come, with each varied reading.
As Joni said, the place Jesus has gone to prepare for His children will abound with dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures. For your great God delights to lavish love on you, His child — both now, and in the life to come.
Where all that will be left is joy.