Sammi was our pet Dalmatian who recently savored a favorite meal, took a short, slow and easy walk, sniffed lots of good smells, and later that day, made her final departure in the arms of the couple who loved her so much. You might fill in the name of your pet in all the next references to Sammi. However, if you are an atheist, you will find my consideration of this question to be nonsense, so you might simply proceed to the Sports section. For believers in God, who have owned and loved their pets, this question is relevant.
I remember Lucy challenging Snoopy about being too "dogmatic" in his theological writings, so I will try to take her advice. Still, there are some biblical teachings I do want to affirm.
First, when God created life and all animals as a significant part of that life, it is stated that "God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:25) Throughout the Bible, we see that God loves life ... life as it is designed for the common good. Jesus speaks of God feeding the sparrows and points out how the lilies outdo King Solomon in terms of beauty. When Jesus entered Jerusalem during the Passover Festival, he came in riding on an unbroken donkey who seemed to recognize its creator and gave Jesus a smooth ride. Jesus, as Savior and Lord, is pictured as both Lamb of God and Lion of Judah, animals of special significance.
In Isaiah's vision of heaven, the animals all play wonderful parts. Read Isaiah chapter 11:6-9. The prophet sees the wolf living with the lambs, the leopard grazing with goats, the calf and the lion as friends and "a little child shall lead them." Heaven is always pictured in a setting of peace. It is peaceful because love is fully present everywhere. If God is love as Scripture affirms, then where God is present, there love reigns.
Sammi showed us love ... even at times when we might not have deserved it. So did our other three Dalmatians who preceded Sammi, and we loved them, as well. When I say that they loved us, I am not referring simply to "supper time." I am referring to many memorable evidences of devotion, sympathy and trust. When I read the bumper sticker "to err is human, to forgive canine," I had to agree. C.S. Lewis once commented that "canine loyalty and affection often put human fidelity and friendship to shame."
In many ways, our pets can be ambassadors of God's love. If that be the case here on earth, why should we think they will be excluded from the life to come? The Bible says that "love never ends" (Corinthians 1:3-8). Then heaven, filled with love, will also be filled with all those precious pets that brightened our days here on earth.
I can envision it now. In glory we will see our Lord! Halleluiah! We will see Peter and Paul. Wow! We will see our folks and grandfolks and children. Yes! And look! See who's running with wagging tails and bright eyes to meet us. Our wonderful dogs! That is all a part of the accomplishment of God's love!
Oh, and one wonderful plus ... we won't need a "pooper scooper!"
The Rev. Randy J. Klassen is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.