Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b
Dr. Toole’s words have never left me, “Tom, the only one I am treating here is you.” There was nothing more he could do. Sir (that was his name) had been with me through seminary, my summers driving trucks cross country, my marriage to Brenda and the birth of our three children (Jason, Jhennifer, and Jocelyn). This beautiful German Short Hair was my companion through three major moves from Berkeley, CA to the plains of Alberta, the remote coast of British Columbia and back to the U.S. Finally, it all caught up with us. He had a very specific disease that, after 13 years of treatment, had left his body pretty much destroyed from the inside out.
Dr. Toole was speaking a hard truth… though I was doing everything I could do for Sir, he was probably fighting on more for my sake. It was true; I was asking for just one more miracle, one more magic cure, one more reason to take my good friend home, and one more day I would not have to face the inevitable. “Tom! You are the only one I am treating here.” After my good friend finally laid down his head for the last time, it was 45 minutes before I could compose myself enough to leave the examining room.
Today we took Cleo for her last trip to the vet. Cancer, she was in liver failure, and was suﬀering. There was nothing more to be done for her. She was a love whose joy was in trying to please you. Between these two there have been three other similar stories. We adopt rescue dogs and then we just love them to death. We are also the poster children for why you should have pet insurance (we haven’t, ugh). It has never gotten easier; it is always tears and second guessing and sadness. I have always tried to use the wise words of the good doctor as our guide when it comes to the diﬃcult decision.
There is much in life these fur-friend partners have taught me. One critically important lesson is that life is always symmetrical. Never asymmetrical, at least not for very long. In the same way a tight rope walker’s success is dependent on keeping balance on each side, one’s ability to love is symmetrically connected to their openness to experience disappointment. For example, my experience as a pastor has shown me that it is not uncommon for a new Christian, an adult convert, to feel a deeper sense of gratitude for Jesus than a cradle Christian. The reality of their sinful past has made the sweetness of God’s grace in Jesus all the more precious. Confession makes grace all the more meaningful. It’s symmetry, examples abound.
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus, prior to his ascension, meets his followers on the mountain in Galilee where he had told them to go. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… make disciples… baptize them and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you… and I will be with you to the very end.” The Father has given Jesus all authority in heaven and earth. Love wins, teach those that follow that love has conquered death. And Jesus will keep us company through it all, always, to the very end of the age. We will not be alone.
Companionship is the ministry of keeping company. Sir kept me company through some of the biggest of my life stages. The same with each of my fur-friends. I am certain that is why our pets are so precious to us. It’s almost as if they provide a ministry to us. Jesus is God putting on flesh that we might have confidence in God’s presence with us. Ours is the ministry of keeping company with one another. Who is it that said, “Christianity is one beggar telling another where to find bread?” Jesus knows our need for companionship, “I will be with you always.” We do better when we know we are not alone.
It’s been life-giving these past couple of Sundays watching the joy being experienced as we again gather as companions who have love for one another. It’s life-giving to be missed, isn’t it? I miss Cleo.
Peace and love,