ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL
Psalm 8:6-8 - "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas."
I marvel at our neighbors--Sue and her husband Bob. They live across the street from us, and they love animals. They have five dogs, three cats, two tame squirrels, a hamster, and I don't know what else they have that are kept in cages inside the house. One of their dogs, a beautiful white German Shepherd, was run over by an automobile some time ago and survived. One of the major injuries he sustained was the loss of control for bladder and bowel functions. So, the poor dog has to wear a specially-made contraption to hold up his diapers while in the house. You'd see him running around in the backyard with this contraption on. Every morning, I would see Sue patiently cleaning the dog and bathing him.
Hats off to Sue and Bob for their decision to take care of this dog versus putting him to sleep, the easy way out that most people would choose to do in order to avert the cost and inconvenience its care would bring upon them.
We have a moral obligation to take care of God's creatures, don't we? God places the animals on this earth to bring happiness and joy to man. And it is up to us to show kindness to them and to help in their care and maintenance.
In the beginning before sin entered into the world, Adam and Eve were to bear rule over the earth. Unlimited control was given them over every living thing. The lion and the lamb sported peacefully around them or lay down together at their feet. The happy birds flitted about them without fear; and as their glad songs ascended to the praise of their Creator, Adam and Eve united with them in thanksgiving to the Father and the Son. --Patriarchs and Prophets, Page 50.
After sin entered into the world, God's arrangement was changed. The nature of animals was changed. Some became fierce and dangerous. Man feared lions, tigers, bears, etc. At the same time, animals showed a fear of man. No longer were the birds able to flit about human beings without fear.
When I was a little girl, it seemed I had one goal in life: to catch this beautiful small red and black colored bird called chichirika. This bird would fly or hop away from me for short distances at a time daring me to catch it. It was like we were playing some kind of a game. I thought for sure I would be able to catch it, but every time I would come too close, it would hop a few feet away almost within my grasp. As I wanted so much to catch it, I would try again and again. After a while, the bird eventually flew away and was gone. You see, this little bird didn't trust me. It was afraid of me.
Despite the changes in our world because of sin, there's enough beauty left for us to enjoy. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
Pets play an important role in our well being and happiness. They bring healing when nothing else could. They bring comfort when no one else could. They love unconditionally when no one would. They give hope when everything looks bleak and hopeless. They give laughter to soothe frayed nerves. They protect. They help. They teach valuable lessons.
Here's a story of a mare who was comforted and brought comfort and healing to her human companion. The title is Sharing Our Grief by Kathryn Joseph taken from Animals as Teachers and Healers.
Echo, my old mare, died this year. My concern turned to Pride, my nine-year-old mare, because I knew she'd be lost without her companion and friend...
I had stayed with Pride the afternoon we lost Echo. She never ran the fenceline looking for her pasture-mate. She only nickered a deep sound of loss and grief that chilled me to the bone. Like me, she was mourning the loss of her friend. The next morning I put hay out in Pride's field and sat for awhile curled in a ball by the fence. I cried and felt a flood of emotions, from anger to hurt, to loss and denial. Pride stood very close to me with her head down and her nose in the hay, but not eating. Soon, I saw her eyes fill with moisture and her bottom lip begin to quiver. If horses can cry, then that is what Pride was doing. She moved in very close to me and suddenly her legs buckled and she crashed to the ground. At first I thought that something was terribly wrong, but soon I realized that she was feeling everything that I was, and that she, too, needed a friend. For two hours, she laid next to me, leaning her head back in my lap, allowing me to gently stroke her face. During those hours, I experienced a deep, healing closeness with my horse. It was a miracle and a blessing. When Pride finally got up, she nudged me to get up as well.
Over the next few days, I watched Pride quietly mourn for her friend. She stood outside, not wanting to be in her stall, which I'm sure held the same emptiness to her as it did for me. I owe Pride much for all that she has been for me, so after allowing her time to grieve, we brought home Tessie, a Shetland pony. The look on Pride's face lifted my heart and I knew immediately that Pride had found a new friend.
Infinite Wisdom created the animals with inherent wisdom and uncanny abilities to know exactly what their human friends need, and they provide it with their unconditional love and acceptance. Here's a story of an alcoholic whose life was changed by a scruffy little dog. The title of the story is Life in the Fast Lane by Larry Chamberlain taken from Animals as Teachers and Healers.
Life in the fast lane held less and less appeal for me by the time I was forty-five, but for some reason I kept it up, day in, day out. Working nights and long hours as a professional chef in Las Vegas led me into an every-evening wildness that would scare even a hardened drinker, which I was. My drinking had become so severe that it finally plunged me into a lonely living terror only a true alcoholic can understand. By the fall of 1991, I had even spent time in a local hospital because of the side-effects from my drinking disease. But I was quickly released, and would soon meet a friend who would change my life completely.
The day my world changed, I was watching the World Series. Drinking helped me to urge on my team. My roommate and his girlfriend came in and told me they had spotted a stray dog at the local convenience store. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but by that evening the dusty-colored, scruffy little dog was fed and resting on the crouch in my apartment. He looked like he'd never had a bath or a grooming and I was reluctant even to keep him around. But my roommate piped up, "Can't you just picture him with some eleven-year-old boy, just the two of them knockin' around together?" Somehow, I couldn't get his words out of my head.
A few years before during a physical exam, I had told a doctor about my drinking problem. He told me that I was in the grips of a very serious disease and that there was little he could do to help me. He suggested that I find myself a steady girlfriend and change my lifestyle. If I couldn't find a girlfriend, he told me I should find a dog. "What for?" I asked in surprised ignorance. The doctor said I needed someone or something that needed me.
He must have been right. After "Homer" came into my life, I tried hard to keep up my old habits of drinking and coming home at odd hours, but knowing that Homer was home alone was just too much for me to bear. I started heading home earlier and earlier each night. Homer was so glad to see me! All that affection had an effect on me that was just like magic. Instead of drinking my after-work hours away, Homer and I began wandering through the parks and church parking lots nearby. I made an attempt to find out where Homer came from, but the convenience store owner said that Homer had been abandoned there by transients, so it appeared that the little dog was mine from now on. A visit to the vet and the groomer, plus a new rubber ball, gave Homer a sense of belonging and I took him along with me everywhere. We were seldom apart, and he remains a favorite guest everywhere we go... Since Homer and I have become companions I see a different world than before, a world filled with possibilities, hope, and change. Homer brought something important to my life. Through my love for him and his unconditional love for me, change became possible. Maybe Homer brought me back a piece of the youth I had lost in southeast Asia or the trust that I had lost at the end of my marriage. What it comes down to is that I now have faith in a power greater than myself.
When no one else could comfort, God sent a humble feathered creature to bring the needed comfort to a heart weighted down by overwhelming grief and sadness. Here's the story entitled, I Heard the Robin Sing by Laura Kohr.
A deep hush was in the church; only the soft voice of the minister could be heard. Outside the windows slanted the gentle rain. Inside, the air was heavy with the perfume of flowers. My heart was leaden and my body was numb. It is never quite possible to be ready for separations. My husband was gone; only his body remained. I listened to the minister's words, trying to find comfort.
Then, incredibly, it happened. Far away through the rain I heard the robin's song. He sang through the rain, despite the rain. He put his whole small heart into that song, and a voice within me repeated his message just as clearly as if it had been spoken in words: "Do not grieve; there will be happiness and song for both of you, beyond the tears."
All at once the crushing burden seemed lighter. A moment later when the congregation sang the final hymn, I found that I could raise my heart to my Creator in song, just as the robin had done.
Later, when I spoke of this to others, no one else had heard the robin sing. Perhaps I dreamed it, I don't know. It doesn't matter. I can hear it still, whenever I need the faith and courage to go on.
Out on a Ledge is a story of a dog's fantastic feat in rescuing a toddler who climbed out on a ledge high above the street. The author was Stephanie Laland, and the story was taken from Peaceful Kingdom.
In May 1977, a family in Malmo, Sweden, learned just how far out on a limb a dog will go for a human. The father, Leif Rongemo, returning from the kitchen to the living room of his third floor apartment, discovered that the casement window was open and his two-year-old daughter was missing from the living room.
When he looked outside, he saw the street thirty-six feet below--and his little daughter crawling on all fours along a narrow concrete ledge that circled the building. He stifled a cry of alarm to avoid startling her, because an extraordinary kind of rescue was already under way.
Following just behind the baby girl was the family's Alsatian dog, whining softly with distress. Both dog and daughter were far beyond reach and there was no room on the narrow ledge for either to turn around and crawl back to the window. The father quickly realized that if he attempted the ledge, all three would probably die. He called his wife to help from the window while he rushed down to the street to try to catch the child.
As the baby girl crawled farther away from the window and safety, the dog pushed forward determinedly and at last seized the child's diaper in his jaws. To the amazement of those who had gathered on the street below--they were attempting to create a makeshift net to catch the child--the dog then shuffled carefully backward, inch by inch, pulling the little girl back toward the window.
The heart-pounding backwards journey took three minutes, until the mother could snatch her child. The dog then leapt into the room proudly wagging his tail.
The family had been thinking of getting rid of the dog because they were concerned he might be too big to keep around a small child. His bold rescue of their daughter, however, made him a most treasured member of the family.
When we think of getting an animal for protection, we usually think of getting a large dog, don't we? Before we got Sasha, our German Shepherd, I wouldn't dare walk at night alone. Now I could walk at night thinking that no one would bother me with a big dog walking beside me.
I don't have the source for this next story, but it is an amazing story. It will surprise you because protection came from the most unlikeliest sources.
Annie was startled by the sound of glass shattering. It was like someone was breaking a glass window. Was it her window being broken? Or, was it her neighbor's window? She was puzzled. She was about to investigate when all of a sudden someone, an intruder, was standing beside her with a large butcher knife gleaming in his hand. He grabbed her unmercifully and demanded for her not to scream or he would kill her. It happened so quickly, she didn't know what to do. She was paralyzed with fear.
Then Annie's tabby cat assessed the situation and knew that Annie was in trouble if he didn't do anything. Quickly the cat jumped at the intruder, scratched his arms and face till they were bleeding profusely. Startled by the ferocious cat, he dropped the knife. He tried to shake the cat off him, but the cat hung on tenaciously, scratching and biting him for all he was worth.
Annie's parrot realized what was going on and he joined in the scuffle. It flew and landed on the intruder's head and started pecking his eyes as hard as it could. Now, the intruder had to contend not only with the ferocious cat but with the brutal parrot as well. He couldn't handle them both. So, rather than have his eyes totally pecked out of their sockets, he ran out of the house moaning and groaning.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Prov 17:22. Oh, how many times, pets bring laughter into our lives. They say that laughter produces good endorphins that are highly beneficial to the body. The next story is entitled Laughter by Marion Bond West.
Minnie, our cat, adores a soft, fluffy white blanket of ours. Anytime we bring it out, she eyes it from afar, then slowly makes her way to it, trying to appear casual. If no one scolds her, she's soon curled upon the blanket as though it were her very own. Minnie isn't the only one who enjoys that blanket; it's also a favorite of my mother's.
Today, it took Mother ever so long to inch her way with her walker from the car to her recliner in our living room. I'd taken her to the doctor and the trip had required great effort. Each step resulted in tremendous pain. She forced a determined smile onto her drawn face. I moved ahead of her, propping pillows on the comfortable chair and then laying out the white blanket.
When Minnie saw Mother coming, she deliberately beat her to the blanket in the chair. Mother's pain seemed to precede her and fill the entire room. It was intense and had wearied both of us. Suddenly, Mother spoke in a sharp, commanding voice that startled Minnie and me. "Is that cat on my blanket again?"
I laughed, softly at first. Then my snickering turned into rippling, uncontrollable hee-haws. I laughed hysterically until I hurt. Mother paused with her walker and, to my amazement, also began to laugh. Minnie watched, wide-eyed. Mother bent over the walker as laughter overtook her. We both laughed helplessly and loudly until we could hardly speak. Occasional bursts of laughter continued to escape from us, like an important P. S. on a letter.
Gradually, the laughter ceased. But it had done an extraordinary thing. I felt better. I enjoyed preparing supper. Mother and I both smiled more during the meal. Things didn't seem so difficult. Loading the dishwasher was almost fun.
~ ~ ~
"Sometimes parents experience humor by watching their children mature. Lucille from New Mexico finds fun in how her parents are maturing. 'After they retired, my mother and father lived out on the California desert with a little orchard, a small vegetable garden, and a pen full of guinea fowl. Though guinea eggs are smaller than chicken eggs, my parents claimed guineas had much more personality than chickens.'
"Lucille continues, 'Often the guinea hens expressed their personality through a raucous squawk. My mother was convinced the guineas understood words. And sometimes they gave that impression. They had two favorite calls that they frequently screeched. Every time anyone went out the back door, one guinea or another would begin to squawk something that sounded like, 'Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!' or 'Go back! Go back! Go back!'
"One day my mother washed a sheet and took it out the back door to hang on the clothesline. A guinea started a warning squawk, 'Go back! Go back! Go back!' A stiff breeze was blowing from the Pacific Ocean. When my mother opened up the sheet to toss it over the line, a gust of wind suddenly grabbed the sheet, slapped it against her face, and wrapped it all around her.'
"While she was struggling to get out of the wet sheet, she heard a raucous squawk, 'Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!'" --By Liz Curtis Higgs.
Can we learn lessons of faithfulness, fidelity, and loyalty from our pets? We certainly can as shown in this observation by George Graham Vest entitled The Noble Dog.
The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son and daughter that he had reared with loving care may become ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him when he may need it most. Man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees and do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head. The only absolutely unselfish friend a man may have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of a pauper as if he were a prince.
When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast into the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws and his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.
When my son Michael was little we read a lot of books about eagles. One of them was entitled Elo the Eagle. In this book, we learned that eagles are faithful and devoted to their eagle spouse till death do them part. Human beings have a lot to learn from the eagles, don't they? If we could just slow down and listen and observe, we could learn valuable lessons from the 'dumb' animals.
In the following paragraphs, we find that animals are more in harmony with their Creator's plans for them than do human beings.
What lessons can animals and nature teach us? Animals respond quickly and are in harmony to God's arrangement and plans for them more so than human beings created in the image of God. Man is prone to go contrary to His Creator's will and rejects the Word of the Lord to follow his own inclinations and perverted ways.
"Through Jeremiah the prophet the Lord says: 'Yea, the stork in heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but My people know not the judgment of the Lord. How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made He it; the pen of the scribes is in vain. The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?' Jer. 8:7-9.
"The swallow and the crane observe the changes of the seasons. They migrate from one country to another to find a climate suitable to their convenience and happiness, as the Lord designed they should. But God's people forget the Giver of all their blessings. Their health is abused, and their God-given powers are used to carry out their unsanctified, ambitious projects. Their days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, and they sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance." --Manuscript Release, Volume 18, Page 85; MS 35, 1899.
Many times, we come to God because we have a need. We pray that He will help us in different situations. We ask Him to heal us of our physical maladies, to heal our broken hearts and bring us comfort. If we are in a financial bind, we ask Him to help us out of our mess, etc. But how many times do we come to God just because we enjoy being in His presence. Not asking for anything. Just enjoying the quietude and the sweetness of His presence. Here's a story entitled A Quiet Moment Together by Eleanor Sass that I know you will enjoy.
My new Dandie Dinmont terrier puppy Wally doesn't hesitate to let me know when he needs something. By a persistent bark or a cold-nose nudge, he tells me when he wants to eat, go outside or play.
Recently, I was sitting in my bedroom chair reading. Wally raised himself on his hind legs, his forepaws touching my lap. It wasn't his mealtime. He'd just come in from being outside. "Do you want to play?" I asked, reaching down for his yellow rubber ball. But when I threw it, Wally didn't run. Instead, he gave me another nudge with his nose.
"Do you want to come up here?" The answer seemed to be yes, because he attempted to jump. But he didn't make it. His legs were too short. So I lifted him up into my lap. After some turning and shifting, he settled down. When I heard him give a big sigh, a warm feeling of contentment enfolded me.
This is how God must feel, I thought, when one of His children comes to Him, not with a need but simply wanting to be with Him, to have a quiet time in His lap.
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flow'r that opens
Each little bird that sings
He made their glowing colours
He made their tiny wings.
The purple-headed mountain
The river running by
The sunset and the morning
That brighten up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter
The pleasant summer sun
The ripe fruits in the garden
He made them, every one.
He gave us eyes to see them
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty
Who has made all things well.
--Cecil F. Alexander
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