This morning I asked Jesus “Lord, what are these animals teaching me about you that I can share with others?” He said “forgiveness”. I of course said…. “HUH?”
It is my deepest desire to share with you things the Lord is showing me. This means He must SHOW me something. This falls in the category of showing me right here and now, not something He’s showed me in the past so here we go!
Forgiveness? What do chickens, goats, geese, turkeys etc have to do with that? When you have animals you will end up with one or more of them ticking you off. They get out of the yard, they step on your feet, they eat things that they’re not supposed to, they fight you while your trying to help them…. ohhh…..! I’m an animal sometimes to Jesus! I get off trail, I step on His plan for me and make a mess of it, I take part in things I shouldn’t and dangit… I fight Him when he is trying to help me. Yet, He forgave me when I still hated Him. Romans 5:8-11 says “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
I dare you to re-read those verses. Look for the words sinners, enemies, reconciled and atonement. It brought tears to my eyes to consider myself an enemy of God. We all start that way. So how does this correlate to animals? Can they ask for forgiveness? No. They cant speak…. and if they can to you…. umm that’s a new discussion! Yet we have to forgive them. Would I say your animals hate you or are your enemies, no. However if you start to forgive something as simple as an animal without being asked for forgiveness or without an apology then could we apply the “practice makes permanent” theory? Yes.
Are we going to have a stranger, neighbor, friend, family member or spouse that is going to treat us like an enemy? Maybe do something that we must forgive without them ever repenting? Absolutely. If we are practicing forgiving with animals will we be better at forgiving people in our lives? Absolutely! Will it be easy? No, but I dare say as we do more forgiving the more easily it will come.
Here’s the toughest of questions in forgiveness… “Does it make what they did right?” No. So work is required here. Training work like teaching them to follow instead of dragging them. Work like mending fences, wearing boots, feeding them the appropriate amounts so they don’t get thru the fence for your neighbors grass… you get the point. The same applies to people.
Teaching people comes in many forms. Sometimes teaching people comes from teaching them wrong from right and the best way to do that is humbling ourselves to apologize for our wrongs or being open to discuss area’s we’ve learned things. Easy? No. Worth it? Yes. When we ask for forgiveness we get better at giving it, know that it is desperately needed by all. The last part of that scripture says “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” this atonement with Him gives us joy and therefore atonement with others will give us joy.
Sometimes the “people” needing to be taught is you, hence the boots and feeding corrections. You see, we were enemies with Jesus before we received Him has our savior. Now we are not enemies but co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ) This is where I’m going, if now we are no longer enemies, than are we still in need of forgiveness? Yes. We make mistakes and 1John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Can we act unrighteous after we’ve been saved? Yes. We’ve worked on animals, and worked on people, this is how Jesus works on us. Regardless of the other persons reaction our confession cleanses us because Jesus does the cleansing, not the people.
Ok, goats can’t confess so where did I get this from animals? I’ll tell you. My chickens have been getting into my neighbors yard. I’ve done tons of things to try to fix this however my neighbor is still upset about it. I reacted on our last occasion with harshness and unkindness because, well the because doesn’t matter does it. I acted that way and knew that I must apologize knowing full well that this neighbor has no desire nor is he equipped to forgive me. I had to anyway. Even if I was never to be forgiven by my neighbor, Jesus could clean my unrighteousness regardless of the reaction.
I’m grateful for the chastisement of my Lord for he says in Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly. Ask Jesus today what you can work on, who might learn from it and where you can practice.