My wife Tonya and I were married in the spring of 1987. We both agreed very early in our marriage that we would not have children. We said to each other, “Do we really want to bring a child into this world of evil, death, war, disease, etc.?” Please keep in mind that both of us grew up as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we have always had a sense of urgency as to this world ending soon. Even though Tonya remains a devout JW and I am not, our sense of urgency remains the same regarding the soon coming of the Kingdom of God! (To use JW vernacular)
In March of 2000 Tonya and I adopted an 8 week old give away puppy. She was one of a litter of eleven. We named her Shelby. Shelby’s father was a mixed breed of a German shepherd and a Husky, and her mother was a black Lab. People often ask me her breed and I always respond, "She’s Shepherd, Lab and Husky. That makes her a Shlabsky." This usually gets a good laugh. Words can’t express how very special Shelby is to us. She’s part of our family. In fact, we call her our only child.
While I realize this must surely pale in comparison to actually having your own child, or flesh of your own flesh, I have learned so much from having Shelby in my life. It’s amazing to me how our heavenly Father can teach us things by so many different avenues. Please allow me to explain.
From the time Shelby was 8 weeks old she would go to work with me every day. In the mornings as I would get ready for work, she had learned the routine very quickly. I’d say, “Are you ready to go to work?” and immediately her tail would start wagging and she would run to the front door. This was the case until About 3 years ago when my wife Tonya had to have major surgery. As a result, Tonya had to stay home from work for about 7 weeks. Well, the first day I brought Tonya home from the hospital, Shelby somehow sensed that something wasn’t quite right. The following morning when I said, “Are you ready to go to work?” Shelby walked over next to the chair where Tonya was sitting and laid down next to her. Tonya and I both thought this was amazing! I thought it was so cute that “our girl” was staying home to take care of her mommy. She did this every day that Tonya was home recovering.
Fast forward 7 weeks. Tonya is getting ready for work and so am I. (We don’t work together but we leave at about the same time most mornings). Anyway, While Shelby was in the living room I asked her, “Are you ready to go to work?’ Immediately she laid down right where she was. This is her way of stating that she doesn’t want to go. This devastated me! I could understand if Tonya was staying home, but after 10 years of Shelby going to work with me, now she doesn’t want to go? As I went to work knowing that Shelby was home alone, the separation anxiety I had was terrible. I understood Shelby staying home while Tonya was home, but now that Tonya was back to work and we would both be gone during the day I expected Shelby to want to go to work with me again. I thought this would change after a few days but it didn’t. I still miss her when I’m at work.
Well, Shelby is 13 ½ as of this writing. This picture below was taken about a year ago. She has been gradually slowing down over the past year or so and she stays home from work every day. Even so, she still walks me to the door in the morning and she greets me at the door when I come home with her tail wagging slowly. It brings me to tears just writing this, but the joy Shelby has brought to me and Tonya has been incredible!
I know this must sound silly to some people, but having Shelby come into my life has changed my perspective on many things. In fact, just like a parent, if someone were to try to hurt her they would have to contend with both my wife and me. This is natural for anyone who has a pet. But how much more is this so with a parent when it comes to their own child, their own flesh and blood? I can’t even imagine the bond that must exist in this case!
The point I’m trying to make is this; while I certainly do not want to minimize what our Lord and Savior Jesus has done for us in any way, I’ve had this thought for the last few years. Is it possible that the sacrifice of the Father was greater than that of the Son? In other words, as far as I’m concerned, and from my finite imperfect human mind, it seems to me that any parent would take a beating before allowing their child to do it, even if the child would willingly do so. However, our heavenly Father loves us so much, that He allowed His Son to leave His home and to be physically separated from Him for over 33 years! God’s only Son willingly came here as a man and took on the pain and suffering of the cross for us! I have often thought of how the Father must have felt while watching from heaven as His only begotten Son was beaten, spat upon, nailed to the tree and killed all for sinful humankind! This is incomprehensible love! I can’t think of this without welling up with tears. We serve an Almighty God and His Son who have displayed to the universe the highest form of love possible, to redeem us! This is unfathomable!
When we come to know and understand the truth about the Father and His literal Son, and when we come to know that this is in the truest sense of the word a Father and Son relationship, this brings many verses including John 3:16 to a level of focus that those who miss this truth cannot truly and completely comprehend! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Praise Jehovah and His only begotten Son!