A Tribute To Smokey

Do we treasure the life that we have with those we love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It happened Saturday and came out of the blue. None of us were expecting it. My wife got a call from my mother, probably because I hadn’t been feeling well and my Mom didn’t want to tax my voice. Anyway, I heard my wife asking about “her” over and over and knew something was wrong. At the start, I thought it was my aunt Ruth back home. It wasn’t, but it still wasn’t good news. I had an idea what was going on when it came to talk about “putting her down.” You don’t say that about your aunt.

You say that about pets.

Growing up, cats have always been a part of my life. The first one was a cat named Subway, so called because we lived in a mobile home and she ran under it first when we got her. I remember when we had to put her down, though I didn’t understand why. I did know we wouldn’t be waiting long to get another cat. The house was too empty. I was already looking in the classifieds in the newspaper.

That weekend, Stormy came into our lives.

When I left home, Stormy was still there. Then, one day later on, sometime after I had married, my Mom called to tell me she had lost Stormy. I had no idea he was in bad health. Stormy had been her favorite and losing him was a major hurt to her.

Along the way also, Allie and I rescued a cat. That was interesting since she’s always been a dog person, but a cat was our first pet. Apparently, cats are with me wherever I go.

Shortly after Stormy’s passing, my sister worked and got my mother a new cat that she wasn’t expecting. This one is named Reagan. Then my Dad was out doing his work and found a place with a cat that was super affectionate, but they had to get a new home for. I don’t remember the reason, but my parents talked it over and before too long, Smokey came to live with my parents.

Smokey had been playing all the week earlier last week, but then Friday things changed. She didn’t want to move and she actually screamed when my Dad tried to pick her up, which is unusual since I have been around her several times and never heard her make a sound. They knew something was wrong. They took her to the vet and found out it was kidney failure. Medicine could help some, but it would only be a couple of weeks of pain. They were all together when they decided to put her down.

After being with my in-laws when their dog Nessie was put down, I have asked a couple of vets. They have all told me the same thing. Putting an animal down never gets easy.

When things like this happen, we always say we’re going to learn to treasure more the time that we have with the ones we love. We don’t. It is our human condition I think. We so hunger for eternity that we think every moment is like it. When things are good, we take them for granted and say “It will always be like this.” When things are bad, we lose hope and say “Things will never change.” We always want to take the present moment to be eternal.

Eternity is not with us yet. We should not treat the moment like it is. When good times come, celebrate them and be thankful, but do not take them for granted. When hard times come, mourn them and seek to change them, but do not act like the story is done at this point.

Either way, cherish the people that you love. Celebrate them. My parents, I am sure, thought there were several years to be had with Smokey. They were wrong. I know when Nessie died, my wife was saying she wished she’d spent more time walking the dog instead of doing other things. That time can never be reclaimed. Don’t waste what you have.

For those wondering, I do think a strong case can be made for animals being in the afterdeath. I recommend listening to my podcast with Dan Story on his book Will Dogs Chase Cats In Heaven?  Please in your prayers be remembering my parents in the loss of Smokey.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/19/2017: Dan Story

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of us have furry little critters running around our homes. My wife and I have a precious cat named Shiro who is our delight. Pets really do become a member of the family. Some people even have set up Facebook pages for their pets where they give them their last name.

Of course, there’s also that tragic moment. Many pets don’t really live a long life. There comes the tragic day when we have to put a pet down or bury a pet or something of that sort. If you have small children, this leads to the inevitable question. “Is our pet in heaven?”

My guest this time has written a book on that called Will Dogs Chase Cats In Heaven? This is a book that is surprisingly very much in-depth and interacts with some great scholarship on the question. While it’s not a hill I’m willing to die out, Story makes the strongest case that I have seen for animal immortality. He’ll be joining us to talk about that. So who is he?

According to his bio:

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the youngest of three siblings. From birth to the eighth grade, I lived in two states, six cities, and twelve houses (that I can remember). My wife and I were both nineteen when we married, and we have two children and four grandchildren. My hobbies include hiking, wildlife photography, traveling (especially to national and state parks), and mountain biking.

I have had two great passions in my life. The first is rooted in one of my earliest childhood memories. At the time, my family lived in Seal Beach, California, and my father owned a mining claim in a remote section of the Tonto National Forest, in central Arizona. When I was four or five years old, I visited the mine with Mom and Dad. I credit that trip into the arid wilderness as the beginning of a lifelong love for nature, wildlife, and all things wild, lonely, and beautiful—an enchantment that has never weakened nor ever departed during all the ensuing years.

When I became an adult, my love for nature became the focus of my life (other than my family and closest friends) and dominated my recreational and writing activities throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. With my wife, kids, and friends, I camped, backpacked, hiked, and explored numerous wilderness areas throughout the Western United States. My wife and I joined the Sierra Club, volunteered at a wildlife rescue center, and were active in various local environmental undertakings, including promoting California’s “Bottle Bill” and establishing a large open space preserve in the city where we lived. My first published magazine article in 1974 was titled “Helping Children Learn an Ecology Value,” followed by “The Wild Chaparral,” “Clocking the Cuckoo” (about the Roadrunner), and a two and a half year series of “Animal of the Month” articles published in a Sierra Club newspaper. In short, nature was my life and protecting and enjoying it was my passion.

This changed dramatically after I became a Christian in 1981. My passion soon changed from delight in nature (creation) to worshiping the Creator. Although my enthusiasm and love for nature did not diminish, it was no longer the center of my life. In fact, my thesis for a master’s degree in Christian Apologetics was a 330-page book titled, Environmental Stewardship: A Biblical Approach to Environmental Ethics. After graduating in 1988, however, my focus in writing changed. Instead of defending the wilderness, I took up the case for Jesus Christ and began to write books and booklets, and to teach classes and workshops, on how to defend the Christian faith.

Although I still offer apologetic workshops and classes, my ministry today focuses more on wildlife, environmental ethics and other nature related subjects. My most recent books, articles, and workshops include biblical environmental ethics and stewardship, ecological issues, wildlife, and other nature related topics (all from a Christian perspective and often with an apologetic emphasis). More recently, my interest and writing has focused on animal in the afterlife, as reflected in my newest book seen on my website home page.

For a list of the books and articles I have published in the area of Christian apologetics, Christian environmentalism, wildlife and nature, click on “Published Works.” For information on my creation care and apologetic presentations, click on “Presentations.”
For my credentials and ministry experiences, click on “Credentials.

Animals are often a special part in all of our lives. What is the eternal outcome for these adorable creatures? Does this say anything about our own lives in the afterdeath? What does this tell us about how we are to watch over creation?

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please also go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Shiro Taught Me About Trust

Can our feline friends have something to teach us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re a reader of my blog, there are facts about me you might have noticed. One you might have known is that my wife and I recently moved to Atlanta where I could assist my father-in-law, Michael Licona, with his ministry. The second is that we are cat owners. Our kitty is a white ball of fur named Shiro, the Japanese word for white.

Shiro

Shiropose

We moved on Wednesday and the Tuesday night before, we cleared all the furniture out of our old house. We spent the night next door with my parents. We did, aside from our little Shiro since my parents have two cats already and Shiro up there would have been a recipe for chaos. Shiro stayed at the old house on Tuesday night. We stopped by to feed him on our way home from going out to eat of course.

When we went down the next morning, and we had been eager to check on him, he really wanted nothing to do with us. It took awhile to even get him to eat anything, but he looked at us entirely with distrust. From a cat’s perspective, it’s understandable. He had just had his world turned upside down. Unfortunately, to get him in his kitty carrier, we essentially had to trap him in a room and I had to just grab him and he had to be put inside it, and of course, he never likes that.

We had given him something from the vet meant to calm him down and we were pleased that he did not whine as much as we thought he would on the trip, but at the same time, I wondered if he had a defeatist attitude. Had he resigned himself to a negative fate? After all, we had rescued Shiro at an apartment complex where his old owners had abandoned him. What if he had thought that was happening again?

All the while I kept wanting to explain to him that he would like where he was going. We were doing this to him because we love him and we wanted to have him with us on our journey. We got him here and I had Allie go to a master bathroom connected with the master bedroom and just stay with him. When we got more furniture in the bedroom, we were able to let him out and let him stay in those two rooms.

He ran and hid under the dresser.

The next few days were concerning for us. It was like we couldn’t get Shiro to eat anything. He stayed hidden all day long. We talked to our vet back home and several friends who are cat owners who assured us that this was normal behavior. It was really hard on us that we did all this for Shiro because we wanted to have him with us everywhere and yet he hid and treated us like threats.

Already now, it looks like things are back to normal. As I sit here and write this, it is almost time to feed him and he is doing his best to make sure that I know that. I regularly hear him whining. He has a new cat tree now courtesy of my mother-in-law. He still hasn’t really explored it yet, but give it time. He sometimes still wakes us up at night, but he’s just getting used to the timing.

So what does this have to do with anything?

The difference between a human being and a cat is quite large. What difference is even larger? The difference between God and a human being. We’re talking with God about a being who knows everything, including all of the future, and He knows how everything will work out. We’re also talking about, if we’re Christians, a being who has done more than enough to demonstrate His love for us.

And yet as soon as something happens that we don’t understand, we’re just as prone to think that God has wronged us or is going to abandon us or isn’t looking out for us. It never occurs to us that things that seem painful and disturbing to us could be for our good. We just look at what we’re going through and then think only about that experience and don’t look at how God will use it.

We cannot literally do it, but in some ways we try to hide from God. We don’t go about our lives as we normally would when we think we have His favor. Oh when we think we have His favor we can tell everyone about the goodness of God and we can pray and read our Bibles and worship happily, but when evil strikes or even just something we don’t understand, we quickly change all of that.

A lot of times we might want an answer, but could we really handle one? What all might God have to explain about the future that we couldn’t possibly understand? I would have loved to have been able to talk to Shiro and tell him why everything was happening as it was, but he would not understand. If I cannot explain the ways of man to a cat, how much harder would it be to explain the ways of God to us, mere human beings?

What’s really sad is that with a cat, we could say a cat doesn’t know better, and in essence we’d be right, but we do know better. We as Christians do know all that God has done for us in the past. We know that He sent His son for us, and yet when evil strikes, we forget all about that.

In fact, this is often where our pride steps in. We treat ourselves like the exception. Oh sure, God will do that for everyone else and God loves everyone else, but not me. It’s like we go to John 3:16 and see that God so loved the world, except there’s that little asterisk that has next to it supposedly “Except Steve” or “Except Kim” or “Except Mark.” We read in Romans 5 that God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us, unless you’re John, Margaret, or Tyler.

Pride and shame are two sides of the same coin. In both cases today, we use them to treat ourselves as if we’re exceptional. We’re either exceptionally greater than we think or exceptionally worse than we think and we put whatever that is on God. Unfortunately, we are being just like Shiro. There is a world of good out there waiting for us and we refuse to come out and enjoy it because we do not trust in God.

You see, I can look at Shiro and think “Shiro. We do everything for you. We shower you with love constantly. We protect you from everything and give you so many good things. Why is it that as soon as we do something that seems different, you act like we’re out to get you?” Whenever I think like that though, I can often picture God looking at me and saying “Good questions. I’ve been asking you them for years.”

So right now, there’s a little white ball of fur in the doorway of my office here. I’m about to go feed him soon and he knows again that he can rely on my hand to take care of him. Will I not take this time to learn more that there is a hand greater than mine that is taking care of me even when it might not look like it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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