As you come to him, the living Stone
—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—
you also, like living stones,
are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood,
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Well, we have taken some time to consider our God being God in both the Old and the New Testaments. We have seen Him reveal Himself to be the Holy Engraver of the stone tablets as well as the Living Stone so that His children on both sides of the Covenant line could see His perfect holiness, perfect freedom, and perfect love. Isn’t it funny how we always return to the fact that our God does not change? Are you beginning to appreciate the security in His unflappable Godness? That’s one of my prayers for you all. I want you to know that to your bones because grabbing a hold of that particular truth changed my faith dramatically.
I have to wonder what you have been thinking in the time that has passed between this posting and the Engraving of God (Part 1). Might it be that in this time of consideration you have thought to yourself, “Kinda cool, Bunny, but how does that apply to me? And . . . what in the world does your dog have to do with anything?” I find both of these to be good questions. I hope to give you answers, based on the authority of God’s Word, which will show you that for believers in Christ this particular Old Testament/New Testament parallel could not be more significant. Having God be true to His promise to show those who seek Him great and hidden things has convinced me that part of my destiny, and may I suggest part of yours as well, is to be a chip off the Almighty Rock.
It’s not hard for us to wrap our minds around God carving each character into the stone tablets until His perfect message was completed and presented to His children. It’s tangible and concrete. But grasping the carving Christ underwent might be more difficult for us because of the abstract nature of it. It’s my feeling though that the etching Christ endured was every bit as real.
Consider our Jesus, hungry and thirsty after fasting 40 days, doing battle in the desert with Satan. How deeply do you think coming face-to-face with evil, especially in such a vulnerable state, would have cut? Imagine the heart of perfect compassionate being confronted with a sea of sickness and need, knowing that this was not the time for physical restoration to come to all. How might that have etched His heart of Love? And what of the engraving He experienced as all the disciples deserted Him and He heard Peter say, “I do not know the man.” Perhaps we could picture the very real marks He bore across His back and the blood that ran from His head as the thorns carved their way into His temples. And the ultimate etching of the nails in His hands as He willingly surrendered to the Cross. Yes, our perfect Savior, fully human underwent the pain of being engraved for our benefit. Remember, Jesus was perfect. His character was flawless and He knew that He needed no refinement, no engraving. His Father knew it. And yet, Father and Son joined together to complete the carving. Why? For whom did the Father allow His Son to go through such agony? Who did Christ find worth the suffering? Who needed to see Him triumph over every obstacle and endure every etching? WE DID.
We, who are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, needed to see the Living Stone emerge in victory from the sadness, pain, and difficulty of life. It was essential for those who are destined to be conformed to the likeness of the Son to witness the purposefulness of the carving as well as His triumph. We needed to see Him come through as the Conqueror displaying the message and glory of the Father because as those who are “like living stones” I fully believe we can expect to go through the engraving process too. There is a purpose to the hurt and loss of this world just as there was a purpose to the suffering of Christ. For me, this truth began to wear my name at the passing of our sweet little cocker spaniel.
Baby Dog had been a part of life on Biddinger Boulevard for a long time. Britt got her for a birthday present when she was just a little girl but truth be known, Baby , without a doubt, placed herself above Britt in the family hierarchy. And our Puppy Girl was definitely absent the day the memo announcing that she was a dog circulated. She ran the house and had her little black nose poked into everybody’s business. There wasn’t one thing in life that she didn’t leave her paw print on. So after she was gone, there was just this immense hole in everything.
Baby died in September of 2012 and her death was kind of like the exclamation point to a lot of other loss that had taken place for me. It started with Britt leaving for college the previous year, and though I don’t want to dramatize what is a very natural part of life, I honestly felt physical pain in my heart when I watched her pull out of the garage and leave for Florida. Like a chunk of me was cut away. Several other things took place and then, a sweet Sister and warrior Friend completed her race and went home to be with Jesus. It was painful to say goodbye even though you knew her faith had become sight. In August of 2012, Brett began battling these new health issues and it took so much of his independence. It was like watching the accident steal his freedom all over again. … and … and…and it all hurt. And when I looked around at the people I have the honor of doing life with, so many of them were walking through absolutely agonizing situations. The hurt of a sick child. The pain of lost health. The grief of a lost home. The uncertainty of aging parents.
So when Baby Dog passed away, the floodgates opened and I began to cry. I swept up dog hair and I cried. I got Brett’s breakfast but not her Beggin’ Strips and I cried. I pulled out of the garage and saw the freshly mounded dirt in the yard and I cried. I am still crying, even in the card aisles at Walmart.
And the loss didn’t stop with Baby. It continued to roll through the Thanksgiving Season when a sweet friend was taken from us far too soon. I can’t describe the pain I saw on his Momma’s face and his sister’s face. It was anguish I haven’t seen up close and personal before. And I hurt for them and I grieve the loss myself. And it feels like another trench has been etched into my heart.
I would look around and think to myself as I watched people hurt and grapple with pain, “How are they getting out of bed in the morning? I didn’t even want to face losing the dog.” Everything I saw people go though would come back to the pain of doing life without Baby Dog and I would think, “What in the world is that in comparison to . . . losing your home? . . . losing your Mom? . . .losing your son?” And the things people were enduring and walking through was almost unbearable to me and that is when I really began to weep. To weep for their hearts and their hurts and their loss. God used that little dog, who brought me such joy, to carve out my heart so that I could begin to love other people. To understand in a small way the loss in their lives, the need in their lives, and the hurt in their lives. I have experienced loss and hurt before but never have I seen it produce fruit in my life. This time was different.
The death of the Dog brought every cut, every mark, every engraving to the surface. It brought me closer to reflecting His character and made me want to look more like Jesus–no matter the cost, no matter the carving. I care more now. I try to listen better. I hope I comfort more and that I do so abundantly. I pray I LOVE like I never have before in my life and I absolutely ache to be filled with the LOVE of Christ so I can love those around me like they don’t deserve to be. That wasn’t a mistake. I meant to say that. I want to love others like they DON”T DESERVE TO BE because that’s the way HE LOVES ME!
I want my love for them to depend on my love for Him, not their personality, not their status, not their faith profession. I want love to be all that is left because everything else has been stripped away. I want to transformed to the image of the Son. I want to be an imitator of God. I want Life Outside the Tomb to be marked, engraved, and shaped by Love.
Don’t you want that? Don’t you ache to bear the marks of Christ so vividly that the unmistakable message of God will be clearly seen and understood by others? We, who are like living stones, cannot be afraid of the hurt – it’s the very thing that will enable us to do what we say we want to do. Sister, embrace the engraving. Cooperate with the transformation. Fulfill your destiny.
You, Baby Dog, continue to be a good gift to me!