Saturday, December 03, 2005

Will Your Pet Be in Heaven?

Ten years ago I would have laughed off the question, "Will my pet be in heaven?" It seemed trivial in the scheme of spiritual things. Of course pets wouldn't be in heaven...not to say there wouldn't be animals in heaven... but why would God resurrect a pet?

Maybe it's old age setting in and I'm getting soft. Maybe it's my heretical tendencies. Or maybe it's the fact that I just put my eleven year old dog to sleep...but I take that question much more seriously today. (Someone just asked me this recently)

First of all, in answering this question, you have to loosen up your idea of heaven. Ideas of heaven, much like ideas of hell, are more manufactured from popular culture than they are found in the Bible. There are many prophetic passages in the Bible that speak of heaven as a restoration of the earth. Rather than God destroying the earth and creating something totally new, God restores the earth that was corrupted by sin. He puts it back the way it was...the way it was supposed to be in the first place.

I like that. It sounds exactly like what God does in people. Rather than wiping us out and starting over, he renews us.

So, my idea about pets is based on that understanding of heaven. It's a restoration of all that is good. It's not another world that we know nothing about. It's what we've always longed for earth to be. If that's right (and I'm not convinced that it is but intrigued by the thought) then it wouldn't surprise me at all if your pet is one of the first to greet you when you pass to the other side. ( Oh yeah, more speculation here...the natural question is...If heaven is a restored earth...where is heaven now? It's in another dimension! And when Jesus returns, the two dimensions will merge into one. Hey, I SAID it was speculation!)

I think every pet owner will agree that pets are not human, but they are much more than flesh and bone. There is a connection made that goes beyond the owner merely projecting their emotions onto their pet. Because of this, and because I believe that God loves and values all of his creation, I'm looking forward to running through some fields in heaven with my German Shepherd!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Advent: An Unimpressive Coming

My readings in Watch for the Light this week haven't moved me enough to write specifically about what the authors' said but they have got me thinking in more general terms about Advent.

I'm struck by the subtlety of Jesus' birth and how that is true even today regarding his coming. We often talk about the Bethlehem star like it was a neon sign or sky spotlight boldly announcing his birth. But it was only the discerning wise men who recognized what the star meant. And when they arrived at Jesus' home, their first thought was probably that they had it wrong. In fact, they missed the birth by about two years! (See Matthew 2 - Herod killed boys under two, meaning Jesus was up to two years old by the time the wise men arrived.)

We need to remember this as we look for God today. Even believers get sucked into the mind-set that "if it's God, it has to be obvious." That kind of thinking motivates the people looking for weekly signs and wonders. But I would venture to say that if it's God, He might be so subtle that we miss it. God might come to us in the scent of a flower, a gentle breeze off a lake, a smile from a stranger, or the radical thought that flits through our mind calling us to a place of humility and dependence on Him.

God is always speaking yet we so often limit our listening to the obvious (Bible reading, a sermon, worship music, etc.). This Advent, slow down and expand the possibilities of how God might speak to you...then, listen.