Since I received my little black Dachshund, Zacchaeus-the-wee-little-dog (pictured here with our German Shepherd, Haley) from my sweet husband as a Valentines gift in 2000, I have been positively nuts over that dog. It's almost not natural. It's insane. My grandmother once remarked that anyone who has that much extra love to give ought to have more kids. Well, alrighty then! (And, no, I don't equate loving animals with loving children, or having pets with having children and neither does she... She just represents those who might not "get" how someone could love an animal so much!)
I can be having the worst day or be in the midst of something impossible, and when I walk through the room and see my little Zac curled up on a cushion it is positively therapeutic for me to go over and scoop him up. I just love that dog. Being around him actually comforts me. And today, I found out it's IN THE BIBLE.
Just LOOK at what was in my Elisabeth Elliot online devotional today, entitled "Animals, My Kinsman."
"God meant the animals to instruct us. I am sure that is one of the things he meant. When he had listened to all the arguments and complaints of his servant Job, and all the bombast of his friends, he answered by the revelation of himself. And this revelation, beginning with the dimensions of the universe, the mighty harmony of the morning stars, the phenomena of sea, clouds, snow, hail, rain, dew, hoarfrost, ice and the constellations, wound up with animals.
What Job didn't know then was that God had already identified himself with one of his own creatures, the gentlest, most harmless little animal of all. He was a Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.
I have often thought that that terrible ash heap on which poor Job scratched and shrieked would have been made so much more endurable if he had had the least inkling of that. He was overpowered, but had he any idea at all of how he was loved? I have been comforted, in the midst of what seemed to me like ashes, by the thought of the Lamb, and even (does it seem absurd?) by the unflagging attention and affection of a little black dog. For I remember that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness he had two comforters--angels and animals. The record says he was "with the wild beasts," which I once took to mean he was endangered by them as well as tempted by Satan. I now think otherwise. The animals were surely no threat to him. They kept him company in his sore struggle.
When the impact of life seems about to break us, we can put our minds for a few minutes on fellow creatures--the whale, the bear, or things that "take life blithely, like birds and babies," as Martin Luther said--and remember that there is a sacrifice at the heart of it all. The Lamb became the Shepherd, bearing and caring for the sheep, laying down his life for them both as shepherd and as Lamb, and, in the end, the Book of the Revelation promises, "the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes."