I got a dog 10 days ago. I rescued him from the SPCA. Kodiak is a mixed breed, part Chow and part Rottweiler. His fur is red, gold and black with a little touch of white at his muzzle. He is 8 years old and weighs in at 70 pounds. He has completely and absolutely stolen my heart. I fell in love with the first picture I saw of him and it only got worse from there. I truly believe Kody is a gift from God in so many ways.
I was walking Kody Friday night. I usually walk him several times a day. Living on a 5 acre parcel of land I could probably just let him roam but we’re not totally fenced in and besides, this gives both of us a little exercise. So Friday night I was walking him in the evening after dinner. It was dark out but there was almost a full moon. The moonlight threw lacy shadows on the ground and gave sounds that crystal clear quality they get after dark. Because it had been raining the frogs were out croaking from the little ponds and creeks that run alongside the road. It was beautiful and peaceful and my thoughts were running off with me as they usually do.
God created the heavens and the earth. It was supposed to be a sanctuary of peace and beauty for us. I look at the beauty of nature, the trees, flowers and fields, soaring mountains, the flatness of prairies, the endless horizon of the oceans, and I see God’s handiwork in all of them. I know God intended this as good for us. I also know He knew Adam and Eve would open the door which would allow sin into the world. Sin would corrupt and destroy the beauty and peace God intended for us.
Can you imagine walking in the garden alongside God? I imagine the garden as lush and green, filled with plants and animals. It didn’t rain yet but the earth was watered through a mist that rose from the ground. Adam and God walked together in the garden. I like to think Eve joined them. I also like to imagine them discussing each day’s new discoveries (for Adam and Eve) and Adam’s choices for naming the animals. Was Adam’s heart full of joy and gratitude? Did he truly love God? Did Eve? I cannot imagine not loving God deeply and completely in that setting but then, we know they disobeyed God. We know that Eve allowed the serpent to enthrall her, to distort her thinking, to open her heart to the desire to be more like God. We also know she shared all of that with Adam. God drove them from the garden as a result. He also set in motion His awesome plan for our redemption.
The last few weeks we have been studying the book of Ruth during our worship services. Ruth is the story of a kinsman-redeemer. It is a love story, not the romantic one that the story has been changed into over the years but a story of deep, sacrificial love: the love and respect Naomi and Ruth have for each other, Boaz’s respect for the young woman who treats her mother-in-law so kindly, and his respect for the levirate laws of the day. It is also the story of Ruth inspiring Boaz to hesed love. Nowhere in the book of Ruth does it say that there was a romance between Ruth and Boaz, but I sincerely hope there was.
I find it fascinating that the quote taken from this story that has been used over and over again to illustrate deep romantic love was actually Ruth speaking to her mother-in-law. I also find it fascinating that Ruth was not actually a Jewess. Ruth was from Moab. The people of Moab were excluded from “the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:3-4) and yet King David was a descendant of Ruth. Jesus, as we all know, descended from David. I see the story of Ruth as a love story of God’s love for all people. It is the story of Jesus as our kinsman-redeemer. It is an illustration of hesed love, of loyal, generous, sacrificial, covenantial love. The same love the Lord has for us.
I saw Kody’s picture on the SPCA website prior to my latest mission trip to Mexico. His picture touched my heart. But I knew I would be going to Mexico and it wouldn’t be fair to leave him with a dog sitter for four days right after he was adopted. So I waited. Not long after my return I checked the website again, he was still there! I drove to the SPCA to adopt him but I was dismayed to not find him there. I asked an attendant if he had found a home and she looked up his records for me. Apparently Kody had been sick and was transferred to a foster home for recovery. I spoke with the foster care coordinator and she told me Kody would be available for adoption once he had regained his health. I waited almost 3 weeks for him to complete his recovery. Then on Wednesday, November 8th, the foster care coordinator called. I left work early and drove to the SPCA shelter. I redeemed Kody from the shelter.
I live in a house with 6 other people but Kody remains loyal to me. He is grateful to me for rescuing him from the shelter. He doesn’t know all the details of his adoption, he doesn’t know how impatient I was, how long I waited for him or even how close I was to giving up. He only knows that I brought him home with me, that I have been loving him, feeding him, walking him and playing with him every day. He knows I took him to the vet to ensure he remains healthy. He knows I love him. God sent His son, Jesus, to redeem us. Jesus walked with us, talked with us and taught us. Jesus showed us how to love and live. Jesus is the ultimate illustration of hesed love. As Christians, we choose to love God and Jesus in return. We express our gratitude and loyalty to Him and Him alone. We turn from the other gods in our life and cling to the Lord. We walk in obedience.
This morning has dawned cold and rainy. We are in day 2 of an expected 6 or 7 day rainstorm. Kody and I are going to go for a walk. We are going to sing praises as we walk. We are going to express our gratitude for our adoptions, his adoption into a warm and loving home and my adoption into God’s family. Kody smiles at me, he smiles and wags his tail. He is a happy dog. I want to express my love and gratitude in an equally visible manner.