Just as the most incredible and amazing Resurrection follows what I consider to be the most horrible day of the year actually the most awful day in history, Good Friday, today sorrow lent itself to comfort, if not joy.
Recently, my lambs and animals have been for me, an illustration of the things the Lord has said. They have become pictures that help bridge the gap between here and eternity. Tender and heart-gripping pictures of the way He cares, in the interaction between the lambs and myself, as well as between the pups and the lambs.
Today was a more difficult lesson.
I woke up this morning and dragged myself out to the corrals to feed leppies and lambs, but only 4 lambs came to me. Normy was missing. After the others had their fill of milk, I went to look for him. He was lying in their shelter, inside of the little kennel they like to sleep in. I knew something was very wrong, as Normy has always been the most active and the most hungry of the 5, in spite of his chronic sniffles and smaller size. I reached in to lift him out. His little body was very cold and he moaned. I knew it was too late for him, no matter what was wrong, so I took him into the milking shed and held him, trying to make him as warm and comfortable as I could. He nestled into my arms and moaned again. It was not many minutes before he was ‘gone’.
I laid him on one of the pups’ pillows in the shed and went about feeding the rest of the animals and completing my chores. The pups were already out on patrol. By the time I had finished milking, Cletus showed up. I took him to Normy and he looked him over. A week ago, I had banded two of the lambs’ tails and they were quite upset, both pups were clearly distressed and spent a great deal of time tending to them and trying to comfort them. This time Cletus seemed to accept that Normy was gone and without further ministration, he turned and went out to the other lambs. Bruno showed up and did the same, licking Normy a time or two, trying to rouse him, then quietly leaving and joining the remaining four.
I carried Normy to the porch and laid his little body down, until such time as Randyman could decide how to dispose of him.
As I thought about how very animated the dogs were when the lambs were in distress, I marveled at how quiet and dignified they accepted one’s death. They seemed to take it all in stride.
It is my own opinion, but I believe the animals, or at least most of them, possess a wisdom we lack. They rarely wallow in self-pity, or live their lives pining for more than they already have. They simply go about their purpose with as much satisfaction, or joy, as they can take from this life.
It says not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father’s will. (Matt 10:29)
It also says our days were written for us, before there even was one. (Ps 139:16)
The same surely holds true for one little lamb, and for us.
Everything living will someday die. Death is not something we welcome with great anticipation. Losing Normy leads me to the conclusion that we either trust Him with everything, both good and bad, or cannot trust Him at all. Trusting Him with Normy is a small comparison to trusting Him with my own life and death, but it is the most logical decision to me.
He was willing to sacrifice His life to restore relationship with me, so why should I not trust Him with all of mine? I know He can bring goodness out of tragedy, and beauty from ashes. He did it on “Easter”; I’ve seen Him do it in my own life as well.
Normy, if your short little life served no other purpose, you brought me a step closer to understanding my faith and my God and gave me tools and strength for the future. Thank you.
…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps 30:5)