Not so Insane

One night my wife, Marlene, and I sat down to watch a video titled “My Dog Skip”. Now anyone that even barely knows us knows that we are great animal lovers. We have a border collie, four cats, and once had  50 or so tropical fish. As we put the DVD in the player I asked “I wonder if this movie is a tragedy or a comedy?” This question was in the back of both of our minds because animal movies are sometimes tragic. As it turns out this one certainly was.
The story is a true one and about a boy who, at first, is a bit of a sissy. He has a loving but overbearing father but a very kind and understanding mom. As the movie progresses the father’s heavy handedness is linked to the loss of his leg in the Spanish Civil War. He has experienced a loss and that loss is the lens through which he views everything. The boy’s lack of confidence is the direct result of this as well.
And then comes his 10th birthday and a present from his mom: an adorable fox terrier named Skip. At first the boy’s father is dead set against him having the dog. He cites immaturity as his main reason a myth the mother quickly expels. Upon examination the real cause for his concern surfaces: dogs die, animals die. The father is afraid that, like him, his son will be marred by loss. He wants to protect his son; he doesn’t want his son to attach himself to things that will die.
That brought to my mind a question: why do we do it? Why do we humans attach ourselves and love so fervently things which we know are going to die, and so cause us great pain? Why this seemingly built in penchant for emotional masochism? And then the answer dawned on me: It’s because we are made in the image of God. God in fact does the same thing. He loves us even though we are doomed to die. Some may object of course that God knows the beginning from the end of all things and that He is unmoved by death. However can that be said to be true of His Son? Do we really want to say that The Father was unmoved by the death of His Son? How about the Son Himself? Scripture tells us that The Son was brought to tears by the death of Lazarus. And then there is the cross and the resurrection both of which prove without a doubt that our attachment and love for the dying is a reflection of The Fathers.
An article by Dr. Peter Liethart in the Quod Libert department of a recent issue issue of Touchstone helped me to grasp all of this more clearly. Liethart points out that we are able to bond with those doomed to die because we have in us the (seemingly) insane hope that love, our love for the creature, is somehow able to conquer death. And we are right. Love does conquer death, just look at the empty tomb. We can love the dying because The Father loves them and has made our hope sure. The resurrection proves that our hope is not insane, and that love does conquer death, just look at the cross.

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