I was jolted awake from a bad dream and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I made out a familiar lump at the foot of my bed. It was a four-legged lump of warm fur. That lump is our family’s version of Grumpy Cat, Mike. He lay peacefully sleeping. So I stroked his warm fur and fell back to sleep myself.
The next morning it dawned on me. I love a good pun. How grateful I was for something so simple, so routine as that encounter with Mike. Mike doesn’t always sleep at my feet. It seems like when I’m restless or struggling with something, that’s when he sleeps with me. Maybe it’s just me, but then God reminded me that he created animals for a reason. And I questioned myself, why are animals glazed over in the course of discussions about God and our everyday lives? Why don’t animals come up more in the spiritual sense, other than just the “Noah’s ark”, or “Jonah and the whale”, or “we are like sheep” things?
As I pondered this question, I began to recall the different passages about animals in the Bible. There are actually quite a few, but God called to my mind Balaam and his donkey from Numbers 22: 28-31. I’m going to paraphrase, Balaam saddled up his donkey and God was angry with Balaam. So, God placed an angel to oppose him. The donkey could see the angel but Balaam couldn’t. The donkey wouldn’t go. Balaam beat her. This happened several times. (poor donkey) Finally, God opened the donkey’s mouth, “What have I done to make you beat me these three times?” Conversation ensues. The donkey says, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” Balaam confesses, “No.” and Balaam’s eyes are opened seeing the angel blocking the way. The angel of the Lord asked him. “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”
Animals have a way of seeing and knowing things humans don’t.
Job in one of the darkest places of life, all alone suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually said this about animals.
But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
It dawned on me that I had been viewing animals as less than to God. I’m not sure that’s accurate. Maybe God loves animals as much as this old sinner right here typing but just in a different way. I’m going to pray and ponder this a little more. There are certainly verses in the Bible that illustrate God cares for animals. Maybe it’s sort of like this – God and I have a parent/child relationship and God and animals have more a creator/creation relationship. Not that God didn’t create me, it’s just different because I was created in His image. Anyway, I’m still working on this and I’d be glad to hear your thoughts.
But while I think and ponder, I’m going to take some clues from Mike. I’m going to look outside and watch the birds. I’m going take some time to play. I’m going to enjoy eating only when I’m hungry, and obviously more fish. I’m going to take naps when I feel like it. I’m going to tolerate people even when I don’t want to and feel grumpy. I’m going to try and comfort those that are struggling. But most of all, when it’s really dark I’m going to do my best to sleep peacefully, like Mike, and know that God is in control!