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Monday, February 8, 2010

It's a Dog's Life (and Death)

By Justin Edwards

My dog, Brooklyn, went away to die early Sunday morning. She was acting funny around 1am, so my Mom let her out as she thought Brooklyn just needed to do her business. Mom went into the kitchen and saw puddles of drool, the thick and white kind. 15 minutes later Mom went to let Brooklyn back in but she was no where to be found. She was gone. This was not like her at all. Morning came around and still no sign of Brooklyn. Mom and Dad went to look for her in the woods and around the neighborhood, but still nothing. The only thing we can think of is she went off to die.

Brooklyn was the sweetest dog. She was the Lassie-figure. She loved kids and got along with any dog. It's pretty funny how I ended up with her. On my 20th birthday, my friend Brad and I went with our friend Amanda to pick up a dog. Amanda was responding to an ad in the paper I believe, and we found ourselves in a trailer park somewhere outside of Charlotte. This place was a mess! Picture a double- wide sitting on red clay, scarce trees, rainy day, a couple of toddlers running around in t-shirts only, and a "Bubba Joe" as our host. He takes us to the "pen" where we found a 10x10 foot grid of chicken wire, half-covered with that ruffled green roofing, with 5 or 6 puppies - no older than 6 weeks old - flipping and flopping around in their poop and just as filthy as you could imagine. Amanda already had hers picked out and one of us asked what he was going to do with the rest of them. Bubba Joe (or was it Billy Bob, Cletus, or Rufus?) told us in a way only a good ole redneck can, "well-if-I cain't git rid of 'em I figure I jus' drown 'em." So at that, Brad and I also left with a dog each.

I was always one to bring animals home to my parents' house. There's been a ferret, a red-tailed boa constrictor, and now a puppy. I thought I could get away with hiding Brooklyn in the closet, but of course Mom hears her barking and it was over from there. Mom was so upset and it was clear I'd have to get rid of her. So I left for the day and came home later, only to find Brooklyn asleep with Mom on the couch! Obviously, Brooklyn stuck around.

Through the years Brooklyn brought us so much joy. I tried to take her with me when I moved out of the house, but my parents wouldn't let me. That was her home and she was to stay. And I'm glad she did. My nephew Luke really got to enjoy her over the last several years. She was so loyal to him and followed him everywhere. Even when he went inside to play with his friends, she would remain on the front porch for him to come back outside. Luke still doesn't know. In fact, just a few months ago he said to Mom, "Maama, it's gonna be a sad day when Brooklyn dies." So I told Mom today while we were looking for her that would be a good way to break the news to him, "Luke, remember when you said it would be a sad day when Brooklyn died? Well, today's a sad day."

But all is not lost, of course, on Brooklyn's death. She leaves behind a great legacy that we will remember. She also gives me reason to write this blog post, one that I hope reaches someone here in cyberspace.

You see, Brooklyn was 11 years old and knew her time had come. She knew it was time to die and she went off to die in a hopefully peaceful way. It is my understanding this is commonplace with dogs - that they go off to die comfortably if possible. But guess what? We humans don't generally have that luxury apart from the 90 year old in the hospice unit.

The truth is, none of us know when our time will come. Aside from life insurance policies and things of that nature, we really can't plan for it - or can we?  When was the last time you said, "hhmmmm....I'm about to die, let me go over there and die". Or when did any dead person say, "ok, I'm about to die. Let me go take care of this, that, and the other. Let me say goodbye to my friends and family, and oh yeah, about what that preacher said last week, 'yes, God, I'd like to go to heaven now, so please save me.'" Um, it doesn't really work like that.

There must come a time in every person's life where they come to a realization there is a physical hell and a physical heaven. They are real places indeed. In fact, in his book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn explains, "In His story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus taught that in Hell, the wicked suffer terribly, are fully conscious, retain their desires and memories and reasoning, long for relief, cannot be comforted, cannot leave their torment, and are bereft of hope (Luke 16:19-31)." What a bleak and graphic picture painted by Jesus.

So what about heaven? Well, heaven is where Jesus is. And heaven is where I'll be when I die. It's not because of anything I have done, but because of what Christ has done in me. This Jesus knew that He was going to die. It was His mission. He was sent by His Father in heaven to come pay for the sins of the world, so that those who believe in His atoning sacrifice will be saved from the consequence of their sins - eternal hell. God has called all humans to saving grace. 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." But you have to respond to the calling!

Do you know where you will go when you die? Do you believe in God? Does your lifestyle indicate you love Him and truly know Him? A simple belief or general intellect that God exists and He's waiting for you to come join Him in the clouds is a myth. If you want to be assured of Jesus welcoming you with open arms one day, then you must repent and come to faith in Jesus Christ. You cannot work for your salvation, it comes from faith alone. And true faith bears fruit, fruit that will last (John 15:16). If you do not know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then today is the day of salvation! If you realize you are lost and in desperate need of His love, then come to Him today, don't wait any longer!  If you're not sure exactly how, then just ask. I'm here for you.

So while this weekend was a sad day for me and my family, it brings me joy to share this good news with you - that Jesus loves you so much and He wants to call you His own. And if you already know you are redeemed and rest in the hope and peace of Christ, then perhaps you can glean from this Alcorn quote, "The most loving thing we can do for our friends and our family is to warn them about the road that leads to destruction and tell them about the road that leads to life." Have you been doing that lately? Why not start today?

To Brooklyn, thanks for all of the memories and thanks for being such a great dog. I will remember you until it is my day to pass away, and when that time comes, I know I will be ready.

Will you?

1 comment:

  1. So sad to hear about your dog! Great article though!!!


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