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Lessons From Animals--"Fellowship"

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."
1 Thessalonians 3:12

 

I live in a house with two cats and two dogs. Yes, that's a lot of animals. And yes, it's not always easy. The cats and dogs have always had a…tentative relationship.

Sneezy and Squawker had been a family with me for over three years before Kasey and Annie came on the scene. Dogs in the house were nothing new; I would often dog-sit for friends. The cats would patiently bide their time until the "guest" left our home. But then one day Kasey walked in--and she never left!I have had a long day!

I remember the day well, and I especially remember it was a very difficult time for Kasey. Her previous family had found themselves in a situation in which they couldn't keep her anymore, and I agreed to give her a home. I can only imagine her confusion: to have a stranger show up at your home, to have your family place you in this stranger's vehicle, and to have this stranger take you away from the family you had always known and loved. Kasey sat in the back seat of the car and silently looked out the rear window as we drove away. When we arrived at her new home, she followed me into the garage, but then I gave her a terrible scare when I suddenly lowered the electric garage door. My poor girl--this was not a happy time for her, and I'm sure she very much needed a friendly face at that point.

Whose idea was it to let a DOG in here??Well, we walked into the house, and she saw the cats. There had been friendly cats at her last home--finally, something familiar and comforting! For the first time that evening, her tail began to wag as she walked up to one of the cats. But alas, the cats scattered off, and once again Kasey was alone.

She wasn't alone for long, of course. Kasey and I bonded quickly, and very soon we were the best of friends. A few weeks later, and Orphan Annie joined our family--now Kasey had a sister! And now I had four kids. Two cats and two dogs…things were starting to get interesting.

The cats weren't too bothered by Kasey, simply because she didn't bother much with them. Annie, though, was a whole other story: she was a puppy, and anytime the cats made any kind of quick motion, she took it as an invitation to play. The cats soon learned to find the high ground, and some kind of feline/canine truce seemed to be in effect. They didn't have to like each other, but they did have to live with each other, so they learned to tolerate each other.

Fast forward almost a year. The truce is still in effect…but one day I happen to look over and catch something that just about knocked me off the couch. Kasey was across the room, minding her own business. Sneezy happened to be walking past. Sneezy looked at Kasey, took a quick sniff, and then--very deliberately--leaned up, and rubbed, against Kasey--as if they were old friends! The everyday nearness of each other--their fellowship--had caused barriers to gradually fall; not only had Sneezy accepted their role as housemates, he had come to have affection towards the dogs.

Look at us, Dad--we're friends!Jesus teaches us that, when we don't like someone, it's not enough to merely "tolerate" that person. In Matthew 5:44 He says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Don't just tolerate them--pray for them! Paul says something very similar in Romans 14:19--"Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification." He echoes that thought in Ephesians 4:3--"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

The Lord desires for us to be in fellowship with each other. In this world, though, that's not always easy. People aren't always easy. What then do we do? First, we follow Paul's advice and make every effort to reconcile a broken relationship. Jesus teaches us to pray for such people. These are all vital elements. But I learned something from animals as well: fellowship can be the medicine that heals a broken relationship. Spending time together, getting to know your distanced brother or sister: what struggles are they facing? What sorrows and pains weigh on their hearts? You might be surprised to learn that they, like you, are traveling through difficult times. As a wise person once said, "Be kind--everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

You just might be surprised by the power of fellowship.

 

In Christ,

 

--Pastor Dan

 

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