Archives for August 2016

How Can We Not Fear Death? A dog’s end of life as an example.

“He had his head held high and his tail wagging. How can this be?” My buddy, Aron, asks this of me. Aron had shared how he had to put his beloved dog, Mac, down after having him for 15 years. Mac had been with the family through several moves, family tragedies, many good times and tons of “regular ol’ days”…you know those days that just happened and when you think back to the specific day–be it last week, month or a few years ago–nothing at all stands out about it. We all have a lot of these days and need to be much more thankful for them! They are good, good days!
Aron and I have been spending several hours a week, for about a year, together training for different lengths of races (10, 15, 25k, half-marathons and even some marathon training miles) and he branched out into doing triathlons convincing me to tackle one too. We had just finished an evening of lake swimming and afterward were telling each other about our day. Aron is a very laid-back personality, overall. It doesn’t take much though (so he tells me) to get him “wound up” and “going off” on people, especially his employees. I’ve never witnessed this and I’m glad. It really is hard for me to believe him when he says this about himself. Guess, for me, it is truth when I “see if for myself.”
He started telling about his guys on a job (he owns a construction company) where he had paid them to tape off a huge area of a remodel that needed some touch-up paint work. They were totally ignoring the plastic he paid them put down to protect the new flooring and were about to make it even worse as there was a problem with a paint gun that was about to go off and cause a huge amount of destruction when he dropped by the site. I could sense his anger and frustration and thought to myself, “Well, maybe he’s not kidding about his temper?”
Then he shared how he had to stop during his day and take his dog to the vet to be put down. This was an abrupt direction change in the conversation which totally caught my attention. As he started telling the story I had in my mind several friends on Facebook sharing how they had just lost their beloved pet and several stating they had to put their “fur friend” to sleep. These posts always put me in tears! Always!!
His dog was more his wife’s as Mac followed his wife around the house, slept at her feet while watching TV, occupied his side of the bed right next to his wife until he came to bed and then begrudgingly went to her feet to sleep. I know how this works as it happens with our dogs and my wife and I (usually they follow me around though).
That morning Aron’s wife had already said her good-byes to Mac, with many tears being shed. She left the house telling him she could not take Mac to the vet and he would have to take him. For a while now Mac had slept on a doggy-bed on the main floor as he could no longer climb the stairs. When my buddy came down the stairs Mac got up off his bed and came over and leaned against his legs. This was not Mac’s norm. This put my buddy in tears knowing this was the last day of Mac’s life. Mac then went to the door waiting to go out to the car like he knew what was to happen.
My buddy had an early meeting and couldn’t take Mac first thing to the vet. Mac went out with him and right over to the truck. This too was not Mac’s norm as he wasn’t fond of riding in the car either. Aron explained how he would be back for him later and it wasn’t time to go yet. Mac looked at him and went back to the house. This really made Aron think, “Wow, Mac knows what is to happen today.”
About mid-morning Aron sidelines his day and heads home to take Mac to the vet. When he gets there, again, Mac gets up and comes to greet him with his tail wagging. After a short “hello” Mac heads to the door waiting for Aron to open it for him and goes right to the truck. Aron has to lift him in and does so with no hesitation from Mac. Not normal.
Mac is content riding to the vet and Aron is loving on him and talking to him about all the times they have shared together. Mac looks at him several times with understanding looks and again, Aron thinks, “He knows what is happening.”
When they get to the vet it isn’t Mac who is anxious or upset, as that is what is normal. He takes him to the waiting room, explaining first why he is there to the person behind the counter, and they sit for a few minutes. Again, Aron is talking to him and loving on him with Mac looking at him with understanding eyes.
The door opens and the vet tech comes over putting a leash on Mac and Aron takes off Mac’s leash from him. Mac goes with the tech. And in Aron’s own words, “Mac had his head held high and his tail waggin.” Aron shared how he knew Mac was not afraid. Mac knew his life was about to be over. He had had a great life. He had two people to love, protect, take great care of and they had been there for him all his life too. Life had been good.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Mac knew the truth of these words. He was ready to meet His creator. He had lived a full life serving his purpose well–to take great care of Aron and his wife.
Knowing your purpose, and serving well in doing it, will help you when you reach the end of your life to have great confidence of what is next, and not to fear.
As I reflect upon my thoughts about death, first I am thankful for great understanding and wisdom the Bible teaches in how death is nothing to fear. Also, books like “One Month To Live: Thirty Days to a No-Regrets Life” by Kerry and Chris Shook have helped me not to fear death. Third, growing my identity in Jesus and allowing Holy Spirit to bring “secrets” into the light. They have no power over me and this has helped me greatly to not fear death.
Now, I cannot say that death causes me no alarm. Truly, it is more the possible “ways’ I could die that still cause me anxiety. This is where the enemy can creep in on me, and you. We are not to be anxious about anything but instead pray and be thankful, Ph 4:6-7. While we are doing this we will develop a great sense of how to prioritize our lives and live in confidence of Jesus’ peace which guards our hearts and minds.
This is not easy, but simple.
We can have our “heads held high and our tails wagging” every day when we walk in Freedom, as most of us will not know what day is our last.
Freedom comes at a great cost and you grow in it when you begin to believe and experience Jesus’ powerful love and grace. If you need help growing in Freedom please leave a comment and I will pray with you and help you in any other way possible.

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