Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering Sundance

** This post is from my journal, and is one I wrote shortly after Sundance's death.
I share it here, in this post, unedited, perhaps rambling and run on in sentence structure, but sincere and in humble faith
To anyone who has lost animal, hang on, and have hope. We WILL Begin Again

Sundance was 14 months old the day I witnessed him lose his young life., and I miss him so much. It has been so hard since his death (on this earth as it is) on January 7th, 2009. I am absolutely humbled and brought to my knees by the loss of a kinship and a love that has, in the deepest since, made me turn and seek the face of my God, his God, our God, and to find a way to honor his young life.

In my grief, I am learning, as I have sought hope and answers, each day in our world, there are losses of love and relationships with our animal friends.
I now understand losing these companions and helpers often devastate the human heart, for many, as deeply as when we lose a human love, and life. It is not a comparison of the value of life, it is an acknowledgment of our God's divine wisdom, that love is very simply, love.
Every day I live with a knowing and an understanding that my life is an opportunity to be a better person, an opportunity to love more, live better, honor and make amends for past mistakes and wrongs, while I balance my need to forgive with my hope for forgiveness, and an acceptance of the consequences of my wrongs.

The circumstances of Sundance losing his life have haunted me, not because I intentionally did anything to hurt him, but because allowing myself to be distracted, and an overconfidence in life shielding us from any consequence that I would not be able to fix. In short, I have never made an error in judgment that has ended a life, and see the mercy of God's love for the times in my life, when irresponsible behavior, or uncaring conduct could have.
The morning he lost his life, as I stood nearby, talking on my phone, watching him, I allowed him to be playing and exploring in our front yard, even thinking to myself, how much he was enjoying this exploration, and never dreaming he would feel somehow threatened by the passing vehicle, and attack it. I had been so close with him, when you saw me, you saw Sundance, a relationship I had wanted all my life, and I failed him, not meaning to, yet I did, and it breaks my heart.
I know Satan, the shadow and darkness of all evil, want to use it as the weapon to break my back, and my hope is in answering that effort, each day, with these words, allowing God, and those I trust, to help me stand in them;
No matter what, I refuse to let this, or anything else, I must live with, turn me from the God who sent his son to give his life for me, who has given me a blessed life, a wonderful wife and children, their children, and good people who have loved me often when I did not or could not. And of course, the blessing of my wonderful soul mate, Sundance.

I believe surrender comes only when hope is all that is left, and that hope becomes the faith to go on.I have ask God over and over to help me know that Sundance is safe in his eternal care, a peaceful, playful place he so deserves for the beautiful and perfectly mirrored unconditional love of our creator. He fulfilled a ministry of God's love, wonder and devotion so beautifully. I must trust that God cares for ALL HIS CREATION, with a love that can answer my doubt, guilt and hurt, assuring me he loves Sundance far more than I can, that my boy he is safe in his care.

Sundance, and all the animals we love, have no need for redemption, as we do, they have never fallen. We were given dominion over them, with Adam even given the privilege to name them. We have often failed them, they have not failed us.
I find a lot of comfort in these words from Psalms 104: 30, which are words regarding all creatures; 'When you send your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth' (NIV)
Words such as these shield me from the disappointment of those in positions of spiritual leadership, ministers, scholars or “experts” regarding God's word who take a safe, "middle of the road” position regarding the eternal destiny of ALL God's creatures.
Of course it may not be specifically addressed in God's word, because, as I believe, it was given as an instruction for our human redemption. I feel the simple application of love and logic, both God given, make it clear, our God, the author of love, would not, simply discard any of his creatures and their contribution to our lives, indeed so many are better examples of his unconditional love than we are for ourselves.
I understand we are not to add to God's word, or take from it, yet neither are we required to accept teachings absent of the obvious. In a recent article, Randy Alcorn, author of the book, “Heaven”, told the story of a young 8 year old girl asking Billy Graham, “my dog died last week,will they be in heaven? His reply was “ if it would make you happy, yes they will.” Beautiful, direct and kind.
I feel an acceptance today that I have been asking God to spare me from doubt and guilt when it attacks my heart and soul, by “telling me” my beloved boy Sundance is safe. I want that assurance, yet whether or not I have it, or feel it, I believe God's grace and mercy are in our lives, in Sundance's life, and I will honor and trust him, no matter what. Again, I believe surrender comes only when hope is all that is left, and that hope becomes the faith to go on.
On Valentines Day, thankful for the love and health of my loved ones, and feeling God's care for Sundance, I found myself thinking of the lessons from his young life. It occurred to me, the only assurance and protection we have in life, against the hurts and storms of life, is in an unwavering walk and relationship with God, which guards us against the slow, sometimes subtle slipping away, distance, complacency, and life decisions that can be harmful to us and others each day.
I believe God's “formula” for “success" is found in Joshua 1: 7- 8;

'Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to DO everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (NIV)

Be strong and very courageous;
Looking back over my life, and seeing I have too often lived by the worldly, guy's guy definition of strong and courageous, and have been satisfied, I've measured up to that understanding. I now see, clearly, true strength and courage require a humble and sincere admission that I am not capable, on my own, and without help and support, to successfully navigate life, successfully producing peace, trust and a calm assuring contentment in all ares' of my life. In my words, I call it strong enough to not be strong. As a man, I am certain many men feel and understand our need to redefine our understanding of what these words really mean.Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. I cannot pick and choose the acceptance and application of some of God's law, it's just that simple. I have proven to myself, and everyone in my life, especially those I have failed, living only those I choose will not produce successful living, abilities to honor my commitments to God, to others, and life. And yes, any life, any form.

Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go;
For me, turning to the right is, and has been, whenever I am selfish, unkind, or any form of behavior that is harmful or hurtful to my relationships. By contrast, turning to the left is the inevitable result and growth of self rejection, guilt and lack of self forgiveness, which was born in a very damaging childhood, but is not excused, and is not the cause or justification of hurting myself or others. In my own words, I say it this way; When I fail others I fail myself, when I fail myself, I fail others.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth;
This, to me, simply means, when I speak anything not honoring God's word, and his way, I will produce results and behavior that align with those words. It is, in my life, another reason to strive for controlling my tongue, a challenge all it's own.

Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to DO everything in it; I feel I meditate on something when I participate in it, whether it is an activity, a thought or an attitude. Whatever I choose to do, and be a part of is, to me, is meditating (feeding) it. Enough said. It simply becomes “alive” in my behavior and the results. On a recent Insight For Living broadcast, I recall Chuck Swindoll saying he has the word DO in this verse circled in his Bible, because, as he said, that is what it really comes down to. And I agree, seeing I have worked hard in my life, trying to learn the answer, or understand the answer. Being honest, I see how I have faked myself out many times by the “knowledge is power”, or “simply knowing is enough” mindset. It's all irrelevant if I don't DO it. I need God's help to act and carry out this way of living. I have failed miserably trying to do it alone, and I expect many people feel and have experienced the same.

Then you will be prosperous and successful;
Here it is; the payoff. And today, I know, it means far more than what the world accepts. Today, in my life, it has got to mean caring for others, being at peace, treating all those in my life respectfully; Also, to appreciate and protect my desire to be consistently loving of my family, my friends and my life. And YES, my beautiful Sundance, my gift from God, who has helped me see, so deeply, more than ever, how much I have and have had in life to love and appreciate, including him.I hope today, and everyday, forever, God gives him a big High 5!, and one day, I will too. I will celebrate today, knowing God will protect and care him, and bless my new undertaking, a tribute to him,
What a blessing he has been to me, and his life has shown me, as I said, as clear as crystal, the blessings and gift of all those I love. And he will do the same for you, those you love, and may have lost, and especially for those of us who may be burdened by guilt and the brutal beating of mistakes, if we allow it.

I hope you and I can be comforted by Romans 8;28, and have the trust that God can and will make it all right, for those who love him. Regardless of anything we have done, in our brokenness and error, he knows how to conquer the consequences we cannot.Thank You Sundance. Whoever says animals can't speak, tell em to call me!
Peace Baby Boy
copyright/SteveChapman 2009