Throughout the years, Janet and I have had many dogs, and cats, as pets. We picked out our first two dogs several weeks after we were married back in August, 1973 and, with the exception of several months, have not been without a dog since then. Unfortunately, one of the two puppies died of distemper several days after we got her. Sassy was a great little border collie and her death was the first time that Janet and I faced this trauma firsthand. Her brother, Bobbie, went on to live a long life with us until he finally passed away years later, but I still remember laying with Sassy on her final night before taking her to the vet the following morning. Losing a pet has always bothered me.
Many of our other pets went on to live rather long lives with us and most of the animals we have helped we rescued. Hank, our third Doberman, has been with us a little more than a year now and we are his third family. Who knows what happened to him with his previous encounters, but suffice it to say that we are trying to give him a good life. It is not without its trials. He is allergic to almost everything and we are still in the process of sorting out all his physical issues. But we signed on for this, for better or for worse, so to speak, so we will eventually figure it all out with the help of our vet.
Within the last several years, we have added three dogs into our family. Our dog, Hank, Kristin’s new rescue, Lola, and Jill’s rescue, Sara. Andrew also has two dogs, Trinity and Bella who are two of the nicest dogs you could ever meet. In fact, our pets have fit into our family very well and all of us love having pets in our lives.
But I can’t help but be reminded of an incident years ago that has highlighted how much we care for our pets in contrast to some people. For many years, I was involved as a board member of the Humane Society here in Hamilton County. One evening, after the shelter closed, we were getting ready to have a board meeting when a man came in with a small black and white dog named Oreo. He informed us that he wanted to surrender the dog that evening. I let him know that we were closed until the following morning and asked if he could return then. The man’s wife and son were also present and it was clear that the young boy was very distraught at the prospect of losing his beloved pet.
Anyway, the man didn’t want to be inconvenienced about coming back and pulled out a gun, threatening to shoot Oreo in our lobby if I wouldn’t take the dog – NOW! Of course, we halted our meeting while we went through the surrender paperwork and were fortunate enough to place Oreo within a day or two. But I don’t think I will ever forget the look at that young boy’s face as he cried hysterically – begging his father not to shoot Oreo… Unfortunately, Dad couldn’t have cared less. The entire family was traumatized by his behavior – and so were all our board members.
I could tell other stories about the way I have seen pets treated, but I am sure that you get the idea – which brings me to the biblical mandate regarding animals. It is clear that in Genesis Adam was charged with the responsibility of naming the animals and that signified what is referred to as dominion. Dominion is another way of saying that Adam had responsibility for the animals; and that he was to provide for them and take care of them. In God’s order, mankind was created above the animals…
This is an awesome responsibility. We are to take care of God’s creation – including the earth and everything on it. Our verse for this evening is the passage that Moses tells us about Adam and the animals. Moses reveals to us, in Gen. 2:19-20, “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.”
My encouragement tonight is that God’s creation was intentional and not random. Therefore, by being given dominion over the animals and the earth, we have been charged with an awesome responsibility to be stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. My prayer is that we will all take our responsibility seriously – to care for creation, the animals – and with the help of our spouses, our children – who we had the responsibility of naming and have also been entrusted to our care! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…