Fellowship of Christian Farmers, International
May 19, 2019
When I was a kid, a friend of mine gave me a dog. It was a stray that had wandered up onto their porch and they had no use for him. As far as I could determine, he was some kind of sheep dog cross. He had bangs like a sheep dog but his hair was curly. He wasn’t a very large dog, probably weighed about 25 pounds or so. Our friendship was not unlike most farmer-kid-dog friendships. He stayed by my side every waking moment and we had many adventures together on the farm. But one morning when I came out of the house, he wasn’t there to greet me. He had disappeared into thin air and I never saw him again and to this day I wonder what his demise was (although I have a pretty good idea).
What brought this memory to mind is that the other night, my wife and I decided to watch a movie titled, “The Stray.” It was about a family that adopted, and fell in love with a stray dog and the various escapades they encountered with their unlikely companion. I won’t tell you what happens in the movie in case you decide to watch it. But I will say it is a pleasant tale but can be a tear jerker if you’re the sentimental type. It got me thinking about my own stray dog adoptee from years ago, which of course, led me to deeper contemplation and thought and the next thing I knew, I was thinking about what we love in life and what we detest.
Famous Pastor and radio personality Erwin Lutzer said that when he was a child growing up, his parents taught him mainly two things: one was to love God and the other was to hate sin.
The Bible says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” But we can never love someone we do not know, so in order to love God, we have to get to know Him.
By natural constitution we are made to love. There is never a person made who does not love something. Put a prisoner in a cell in solitary confinement and he will find a tiny flower growing in a crack in the wall and love that. We must love, that is what we are made to do. We can love either a person, a place, or a thing. The tragedy of humanity is that without Jesus Christ, the fallen heart of man loves something less than God, and what fallen man loves in place of God becomes a god in his life.
The key to life is to love God. This is the whole story of Christianity, the whole story of God’s redemptive love: the cross – the resurrection – the coming of the Holy Spirit – the preaching of the gospel throughout the world – the believing of it – the receiving of the Lord into our own hearts.
All this is simply the way by which God has made it possible to obey His word and love Him.
In the gospel we learn for the first time that it is possible for man to love God. This is the central reason for living, the answer to why human beings are on earth – to learn to love God. Daniel Webster was once asked “What is the greatest thought that ever entered your mind?” And he answered immediately, “My accountability to God!” This is the great thing.
If this is true, then it follows that the man or woman who knows how to love God will never go astray in life. And the child who learns to love God will be kept through every testing, every trial, every danger. In fairy tales, when children left home, their parents would often give them a magic talisman – (like a rabbits foot – a genie in a bottle) – and their parting instructions were: “Anytime you get into trouble, or need help, or are in real danger, rub this and everything will turn out all right.”
That is a fantasy representation of the truth. The truth of the Bible is that if you want everything to turn out right in your life – it is love for God that makes that happen. If we learn to love God everything else will turn out all right. That is the central truth of the Bible and that is the central truth of life itself.
But sometimes things don’t go our way in life. Disaster strikes or the present circumstances in our lives become so overwhelming that we cannot, or we do not know how to deal with them. Some people will turn to God during these times and trust Him, others will turn away from God and curse Him. But if we hold to the truth taught in the Scriptures that one of the characteristics of God is that He is good, then we must ask ourselves, “How can these circumstances be good?” Or, at the very least, “How can God turn these unfortunate circumstances into good in my life?”
Well, we can look at it as God trying to get our attention. He only wants the best for His children, much like we only want the best for our children. Sometimes it takes a lot to get our attention. C.S. Lewis said, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t care how we lived or what we do. But He does love us, and He does care about us. And because He loves us, He won’t just leave us alone.
What does this have to do with a movie about a dog? I’m not sure, but this is where I ended up after that movie.