I just came in from holding puppies at the pet shop. It’s a sure-fire elixir for my heart when world-weariness demands a quick pick-me-up. And just between you and me, when there’s no pet store handy I sometimes fall into looking at puppies online or watching reruns of “The Dog Whisperer” on Netflicks. Old friends marvel at this change that’s come over me after years of a skinny-hearted religion that had no serious room for animals.
Who doesn’t delight in the stories of Saint Francis preaching to birds, or leading the village’s terrorizing wolf into repentance? As certainly as the human heart longs for beauty and redemption, it dreams of a garden where man and beast live together in loving trust and harmony. Eons before National Geographic turned it into a TV series the Dog Whisperer was scripted into our hearts by a loving Father. “So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them and the man chose a name for each one.” (Genesis 2:19). Our good Father gave pets to Adam and invited his Son to name them. “Fill the earth and govern it”. (That’s kingdom language.) “Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28). We were created to love the animal world, to train our furry friends, and to bring them into their full potential.
Before Cesar Millan, (the “Dog Whisperer”), was Saint Francis; Before Francis was Adam; And before Adam was Yahweh dreaming of a Kingdom, and writing His dream in our hearts. Those little fellows at the rescue shelter? They’re anticipating the Kingdom, too!
7 thoughts on “Saint Francis and Cesar Millan”
I NEED your eyes at times, Don! Your words open my eyes and my heart to truth, truth about the grace of Papa, truth about His Kingdom and truth about Love! Thanks, My Dear Friend! May peace and grace be multiplied to you!
One thing I like about you, Cliff, is your tender, pliable heart. It’s a sure sign to me that you’re well on your way to recovery from religion!
It’s OK to lose your heart to a dog! The unconditional love of puppies prepares us to enlarge our love for people, to see in them what Jesus sees in us, to forgive them when they make messes, and to scoop them up and start all over again. This is the Kingdom in practical application, and a lot of fun, too!
Thanks Jane! The longer I live the more I see that it’s all connected in a beautiful seamless way… puppies and people, Babies and baseball!
Don, this is a great truth–and one I’ve thoroughly embraced since childhood, but even more fervently since rescuing my beautiful girl, Gracie. I’d dreamed for most of my life of adopting a big mutt that would traverse trails and beaches with me. When I moved to a small pastorate in New England, the timing was perfect, and after a prayerful search, God led me to joy in a fur coat!
Shortly after, I was on a date with a man in ministry. When he learned I’d just adopted a pet he looked horrified and asked me, “So, what’s the life expectancy on a dog like that?” He was doing the mental-math, trying to figure out a timeline for relationship and I was doing the mental math, trying to figure out how soon I could get out of the coffee shop! 🙂 Something anti-Kingdom in that.
That night I came home, pulled my pup into my lap, laid hands on her head and said, “Gracie…I bless you in the name of the Lord with a long life, a generous spirit, a kind and obedient nature, and a keen ability to be used in the ministry; to lead me to people who need to meet Jesus and to connect with those I’d never connect with apart from you. The Lord bless you for you are God’s grace to me.” I remember this prayer because I’ve laid hands on her and prayed it almost every day for 3 years since.
And BOY has God answered that prayer! Last Saturday, I dedicated a baby at someone’s home. I met the mother when she was the manager of the pet store where I buy our dog food. Her family wanted to dedicate their baby but don’t have a church. She remembered I was a pastor and asked someone to look me up in the system, illegally, searching by my dog. Suddenly I got a call and found myself in the middle of a backyard, surrounded by non-believers, telling them about a Kingdom in which God was crazy about them. It was Providence!
And for the record, my little non-Christian Croatian/Bosnian neighbor girls have plastered my fridge with love-notes to my dog. And when they come to my kitchen window with joy–and sometimes tears–calling for Gracie, the Kingdom reminds me, they are really calling for Grace!
Wow Melissa! What a GREAT story! You need to blog this! And take yourself a large chunk of “God-Used-you credit” for getting me writing again. It’ been fun and rewarding. You know how, when you’ve put something off for so long that you know God was telling you to do, and then you finally follow through and it feels so good to be being faithful again? That’s how I feel. I also didn’t realize you were a pastor! That’s wonderful! I’m always happy to make the acquaintance of pastors who “get” the Kingdom. Seems like so many have only half the equation with a focus on either getting people saved and into heaven or neglecting salvation and just polishing up the neighborhood. Thanks for your feedback and encouragement. And give Gracie and those two little Croatian girls a hug for me!
I have wondered about Mk 16:15. On the one hand I’m not persuaded that the verse was meant as a literal commission to preach to birds, and yet I can imagine that if God’s people were so brimming-over with gospel joy and fervency that we couldn’t help but to declare his glories to “every creature” in sight, then surely the peoples and nations would get swept up in that as well. So maybe Francis was on to something.
LikeLiked by 1 person