Sunday, March 22, 2009


I spend a lot of time meditating on life and the world we live in. And when I think about it, I've been like this ever since I was a little boy. I remember sitting in my room, staring at the ceiling and asking questions like, "Why am I here?" "Why am I who I am?" "Why does this world exist?" "Why is there death?" As I developed a deeper concept of God, these questions began to make more sense, but I have to admit; even today, I ponder these issues probably more than most people. And probably more than I should. After all, the book of Ecclesiastes opens with the words, "Meaningless! Meaningless!...Everything is meaningless." Maybe he was on to something?

I guess you can say that I got a glimpse of the "meaninglessness" of life a few weeks ago. Let me share with you what happened on an ordinary day after getting my haircut. As I turned my car onto FM 518, I saw the familiar and peppy gallop of two dogs that I met and rescued just after Christmas. Trevor and Faith were trotting down the busy League City street in the familiar and aimless manner of dogs who are not at all street savoy. Afternoon congestion only caused confusion, as they blindly dodged in and out of traffic; for a moment darting off the side walk and then back on again. I instantly knew that I was going to have to intervene to keep these two out of imminent danger yet again.

I began to pull over, but before I could initiate a plan of attack, the two suddenly split up. Trevor, a terrior mix, sprinted down the sidewalk that parallels FM 518, and Faith, a black lab, dodged into an apartment complex, apparently limping as she listlessly hopped a parking lot curb. Assuming that she would be safe for the moment, I chose to try and round up Trevor as he raced East toward my neighborhood. Speeding ahead of traffic, I screeched into the next intersection, cut him off at the pass, and waited for him to get a bit closer. "Come on Trevor! Come on boy!", I yelled out, assuming he would recognize me. But much to my surprise, he quickly darted to the left, and fell into a full speed sprint through an open field.

Realizing that there was no chance of catching him, I quickly made an illegal u-turn, and backtracked to find Faith. Back at the apartment complex, I made my way through the back parking lot until I saw two people standing behind a few parked cars looking down at the grass. I asked if they had seen a black lab, and my heart sunk as a woman replied with tears in her eyes, "Yeah, she's right here! And she's messed up bad!"

Jumping out of my car, I raced over to where the people were standing. And there on the ground, laying in a grassy spot was Faith; gasping for breath and bleeding from the mouth. "Is she yours?", the woman asked. "No, but I know her and know where she lives. I saved her a few months ago and was trying to do it again.". I put my hand on Faith's head and whispered that it was going to be OK. You know, the way "dog people", like myself, find themselves talking to dogs? The other person was a man pouring cold water over her head and mumbled that she must be bleeding internally. We agreed and after a few minutes, we glanced at each other, shook our heads, and without a word, agreed that she was not going to make it. Unfortunately, our unspoken assumption was right.

As I rubbed Faith's head with my right hand, she laid her head on top of my left, gave one last raspy gasp, spit out some blood, closed her eyes and died. Just like that. We sat there, starring at Faith for a few seconds and it was very quiet. I wasn't unusually sad, but I suddenly felt very out of control. Not panic, anger or fear, but just a simple realization that I really don't have a lot of control in life. This elaborate system that God has created is complex and in reality, we are just a part of it. We don't control the system, we only live in submission to it or aimlessly attempt to manipulate it.

The author of Ecclesiastes goes on to say that "No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death." Yes, you may be thinking that Faith was just a dog. And I guess an animal's life is not on the same level as that of a humans, but life is life. God grants it and He takes it away. He starts all the internal clocks of life and stops them when time runs out. We have no real control, and I think a large part of our healthy functioning in this system God has created, is just accepting that.

Job understood this simple concept. And when he found himself in in the midst of the deepest grief and despair in the death of his sons and daughters, he lifted up his hands toward God and cried out from the depth of his soul, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job knew that life is in the control of the hands of God, just as the wind that blows and cannot be contained with feeble human hands.

Sure, I could look at this experience and say to myself, "Hey, Faith was just another dog that got hit by a car. It happens everyday". But I chose to dig into the moment and focus on what was really happening. God's system of creation is constantly moving around us and for the most part, it functions better than anything human hands have developed. Life is an amazing thing and seeing life end from time to time helps us to realize how incredible each breath of it really is.


MS Quixote said...

We're a lot alike, you & I. I never tire of considering those questions. After all, why is there something rather than nothing?I, as well, love dogs. Come to think of it, your blog would look better with a picture of a great Dane on it. Tough story, this one, but you've salvaged it with a great message. Amen.

BTW-the church seems divided on the animal/pet in the afterlife question. I side with those in favor, so perhaps the story isn't over for Faith :)

Jake Kampe said...

The Aeropagus? That used to be the name of this blog! It was also the name of a young adult ministry that I started years back. I've always loved the concept!

MS Quixote said...

"The Aeropagus? That used to be the name of this blog!"

Ha! You can't have it back :) But, like I said, we're a lot alike, you & I.

Stephen Ley said...

"It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart." Ecc. 7:2

Great story!