For any of you who know me, you are aware that I am a lover of dogs—big dogs. I grew up with a King St. Bernard named Moochie, and since then I’ve owned a black Lab, a yellow Lab, a Golden Retriever, and two Great Danes. Currently my husband and I are the proud parents of a feisty toy Yorkie named Levi and a massive 220 pound Great Dane named Hattie. We got Levi first, but he claimed my husband as his almost immediately. Shortly after, I got Hattie when she was eight weeks old, and she has been my baby ever since.
Even as I write this, her massive head is lying in my lap. I do love her so.
However, just given the plethora of animals I’ve owned myself, it’s a proven fact that most of us outlive our pets, which means that as pet owners, chances are that each of us has had to say good-bye to them at one time or another. This morning a dear friend of mine wrote me to ask for prayers because she and her children are going to have to say good-bye to their sweet dog. It’s heartbreaking, and for those of us who have gone through such a horrible process, their deaths are painfully hard.
More than once I’ve had women ask me if we will see our pets again in heaven. This is such a good and important question. Our pets are a part of our families; so naturally, we want to know if we will get to see them again. I believe that we will. As a matter of fact, I believe that the bible clearly supports that we will. I believe with my entire heart (and based on much biblical research) that I will be surrounded with my big babies for eternity, along with all of my believing family and friends. If you are a Christian and have had pets you have had to bid farewell to on this earth, then I also believe that you will see them again in heaven.
Wonderfully, I’m not alone in this belief. Many theologians agree with me and have written excellent resources on just this subject. Why, even John Wesley wrote the following when speaking of our pets:
“Something better remains after death for these poor creatures …
that these, likewise, shall one day be delivered from this bondage of corruption,
and shall then receive an ample amends for all their present sufferings.”
(Wesley, John, The Works of Reverend John Wesley, A.M. Vol 2 of 7,
Forgotten Books, 1912, p. 56)
John Piper wrote the following poem when speaking of eternity:
And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream—
Almost—and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink,
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere
I turned I saw a wonder there.
(Piper, John, “Glorified,” http://www.desiringgod.org/poems/glorified)
How can Mr. Wesley and Mr. Piper and countless other acclaimed and well-known theologians make such a claim?
First of all, I think it important to point out that Christ did not die for our pets, at least not in the way He died for mankind. People are made in the image of God. Christians are partakers in His divine glory and have been redeemed by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Our sins have been forgiven by this act of propitiation. Animals are not people, so they don’t need a redeemer in the same way.
However, having said that, I also think that Jesus did die for animals in an indirect sense. According to Romans 8, we know that Christ’s death for humanity purchased redemption for everything created, since everything created was brought down due to the sin of mankind. Romans 8:21-23 tells us,
The creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV, emphasis added)
These verses indicate that our resurrection and the redemption of our bodies bought by the sacrificial blood of Jesus will extend to all creation. What Paul is saying is that on the New Earth after our resurrection, the animals who once suffered because of the fall of man and the “groanings of the earth” will be joined with us for all eternity, enjoying the glorious redemption of perfection brought to us in eternity with our Lord.
There are so many passages that speak to God both bringing judgment and blessings on men and animals because of man’s sins and respectively, because of God’s grace. (Exodus 9:22-25; Jeremiah 7:20; 21:16; Ezekiel 14:12-13, 17; Deuteronomy 7:13-14; 28:1-4)
Likewise, John the Baptist testified in Luke 3:6, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The Greek word here translated as “flesh” is sarx, which is inclusive of all flesh, not exclusive to just mean mankind. “All flesh” includes animals. In essence, then, this great prophet was saying that mankind and animals will see the coming redemptive earth.
One of my favorites, though, is how the psalmist exclaims the relationship between God and His created in Psalm 104. In verse 24 of that psalm, the psalmist sings, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Then he goes on to talk about the animals and all created life—sea creatures, birds, mammals—exclaiming how all are fed and cared for by their Creator. But then in verses 29 he says, “When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.” To which he follows in verse 30 with, “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.” To “renew the face of the ground” is to re-create. The psalmist is crying out that God will also renew the animals when He redeems the Created, which fully makes sense!
Truly, the Creator could very well intend to make new animals when He redeems the earth, but that doesn’t follow either with His character as a loving and generous Lord or His clear intention to renew that which was already created. Besides, He created us with spirits that have the propensity to be emotionally fed by our pets. We love them, not in place of humans, but in addition to our human relationships. Our pets bring us companionship and joy and unadulterated love. They are committed to us in our darkest and most profoundly sad moments, and they are there to pounce around in unwavering joy when we are exploding in happiness. God did that! And He does nothing accidentally!
Therefore, since we can see that the bible plainly states that both mankind and animals will be renewed in the New Earth, and we also know that God gave us some animals to be special to us purposefully in His great love, doesn’t it follow that our kind and loving Father will bring those relationships into our eternity? I believe with everything in me that this is the truth. My sweet, enormous, ridiculously silly Hattie will be with me in paradise, along with Levi and Moochie and Harley and Champ and Charlie and Chelsea. I’ll see them all there, and I believe you will see your beloved animals, too.
We serve a God of love who purposefully gave us both human and animal relationships to enjoy on this earth. Jesus will return and renew all of creation that “groans” under the curse of sin, and that includes our wonderful pets. So love them now, knowing that good-bye is only temporary. You will see them again.
How awesome to be loved by so great a God as our God!!
And how wonderful to know that this big love will be with me in paradise!!!
**One of my favorite resources when teaching on heaven and the truths the bible proclaims is the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I can’t recommend this book enough for those who are struggling with what to believe about the hereafter and how it accords with the Word of God.
Dr. Deb Waterbury is the President and CEO of Love Everlasting Ministries. In her desire to spread the truth that all Christian women share an intimate relationship with Christ as their Bridegroom while “Breaking the Barriers of Isolation” that often plagues these same women, Dr. Waterbury travels extensively, both nationally and abroad, leading conferences and teaching seminars at every opportunity. She has a special heart for the people of Africa, devoting much of her year to speaking in several countries there. Dr. Waterbury also spends a great deal of her time writing both curriculum for study in the areas of her passion as well as allegorical novels representing the believer’s journey in realizing her position as the chosen bride of Jesus Christ. Her series, The Painted Window Trilogy, has changed the lives of countless women as they come to that beautiful understanding of the truth of their relationship with Christ. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff.
The most glorious thing I enjoy on this earth is singing with others who share the same hope as I do in Jesus. I enjoy it most as we sing hymns, when they are sung from the soul, not just a hymnal or the screen. This particular thing Christians do together is the closest thing to heaven itself. It’s like we can look around as we sing together and ask, don’t you long for “oh that day when freed from sinning?” It’s the one thing that currently keeps us from experiencing a pure joy of worship; we still sin. But if you know Jesus, you get a taste of that joy that will one day be pure.
Then came the day when our son, Haddon, died as he laid in our lap. Worship, and particularly hymns, took on a new meaning in my life. Suddenly singing about ‘when sorrows like sea billows roll’ was a daily reality. I have felt sorrow to such a degree that I thought I would be overtaken and drown. I have felt and cried to the Lord ‘when darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.’ But I also I learned that I like to sing a hymn in my grief because they are written in such a way that sums up our solid hope. Do you notice a pattern in most hymns?
I have a different joy now as I sing, because now its mixed with deep longing. I feel it rise in me as I sing:
“When with the ransomed in Glory,
His face I at last shall see.
It will be my joy through the ages
To sing of his love for me.”
To finally see his face, the one who took my son, yet showed me more about the worth of His son through unbelievable sorrow, I can’t even sing with my voice. Tears overcome me when I sing of heaven. So I silently mouth a lot of songs in my home, my church and my car, but I silently mouth the words with my whole heart and soul.
Chubby hands clutching the ropes, “Higher! Higher,” she squeals. Only clouds and sun and sweet wind kiss her face. No cares, no worries. Nurturing hands push her upward.
More securely now, small hands on the ropes, “Higher! Higher,” she screams. Bows and ribbons and grass and tops of trees; Innocence on her lips, sweetness and life. Protective hands push her onward.
Careless and dauntless she climbs now. “Higher! Higher,” she demands. The world at her fingertips and knowledge a thing to be won; independence on her lips. Still guiding hands push her forward.
Smoothly and effortlessly she soars, “Higher! Higher,” she yells. Ambiguous horizon and ambivalent sighs, the climb ever necessary, the tasks ever present. There, gentle hands push her through.
Slowly and painfully she grasps the ropes, “High enough. High enough,” she says. Darkness and relief and calming storms fill tired eyes. A hush, a whisper, a breath. Gently now, tender Hands bring her home.
Long arms and strong legs swing effortlessly, “Perfect! Perfect,” she sings. Light and Love and Joy sing with her, life dancing in her eyes, laughter behind and all around.
Redeeming Hands hold her, and love her, and push her…
Swinging Swinging Swinging.
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you
I have been struck lately by how often scripture references God’s steadfast love. Every time I read those words it’s like honey to my soul. I’m not sure why it always seems “surprising” to me when I find those words nestled away in various, sometimes obscure passages of scripture, but I think I sometimes get caught up in verse 2 of Psalm 63 that is referenced above:
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
In my awe of Him as Sovereign Creator and Lord of the Universe, His steadfast love gets eclipsed by that in my heart. So those reminders that this awesome, powerful God, who is “not a tame lion”, is good and loves me with a steadfast love, are refreshingly sweet and reassuring.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
George Mueller had this to say in a writing called “Soul Nourishment First” https://bible.org/seriespage/appendix-8-soul-nourishment-first
I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.
Which reminded me of this passage of scripture:
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
The dictionary defines the word satisfy in this way:
1.to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of (a person, the mind, etc.); give full contentment to: 2. to put an end to (a desire, want, need, etc.) by sufficient or ample provision: 3. to give assurance to; convince: 4. to answer sufficiently, as an objection. 5. to solve or dispel, as a doubt.
Can you imagine if we allowed ourselves to believe that God’s steadfast love satisfies in this way? The truth is, God’s steadfast love, which is intrinsically faithful, and enduring by virtue of the nature of the One from which it is given, is the only kind of love that satisfies. All other love will fail us. Only His love can fulfill our desires, expectations and needs.(Psalm 138::8) Only His love can give us full contentment. (Ephesians 3:16-19) Only His love can put an end to all other desires by making sufficient provision. (Lamentations 3:22-24) Only His love can dispel our doubts and fears (1 John 4:18). Indeed, as we read in Psalm 63, His steadfast love is better than life!
If our soul is truly nourished and satisfied by His steadfast love, we will be less-inclined to be needy and self-focused, and can give to others out of the fullness of our joy and Christ’s love. Imagine if we began each day with this truth, and allowed it to power us through the day, like an ocean current, directing the flow of all that lives, and breathes and churns in the tidal ebb and flood that is our life.
Let me close with this poem:
The Ocean of Christ’s Love
vast and boundless,
like an ocean,
deep and wide and powerful
calls to us.
It laps against the pride of our stony hearts.
Will we stand on shore
content to let it merely wash our tired feet
dusty from the trail of life?
or will we plunge headlong,
immersing ourselves in the pounding surf,
caught by the undertow,
our old selves buried
as our new selves rise on the crest of the wave of
Christ’s redeeming love?
Will we let it cleanse our filthiness?
Will we let it heal our brokenness?
Will we let it still our restlessness and claim our wandering souls?
Will we let it transform us as it beats against our rocky hearts,
eroding the layers of our sin and rebellion until we are formed into His image?
Will we let it compel us to yield our stubborn will to His, so we can be used
for His purpose and glory?
This love He died to show us?
This love that cost Him dear?
Like the ocean that spans from East to West
it reaches far enough to cover the sin of the darkest soul.
Dive in weary traveler.
in the ocean of Christ’s love.
This love is a love that truly satisfies. Why would we settle for anything less?
Three young men took the stage, and we anticipated their worship. One of the many things that Africans have over on Americans is their ability to worship, and we knew that we were in for another beautiful song offering from these handsomely dressed young men.
Heidi looked over at me and smiled. We were well into day five of the “Count Your Blessings” conference in Blantyre, Malawi, and every experience had proven to be more blessed than the last. It’s always my immense pleasure to get to speak at these conferences, but it’s even more my blessing to get to witness the genuine love for our Savior that the African people display. In particular, I get great joy from watching the dedication and love from the young people.
The Praise and Worship Team is made up of all young people, and they take great pride in their worship. They spend months rehearsing leading up to the conferences, and each of them either makes or has made their matching ensembles for each day. These young people arrive early every day and they are always the last to leave, often leading worship ten to fifteen times each day.
However, on the last day of any conference I’ve attended in Africa, the team wears its best outfits and there are a number of special worship offerings given throughout the day. On this particular last day of the conference in Blantyre, we had been worshiping together with the team for about an hour when a trio of young men dressed smartly in red satin ties and black shirts and pants walked up on stage. (more…)