I know this because I was there. I even looked at my watch as the doctor put the needle into Maxís catheter, and the deadly fluid was released. As Maxís body went limp I helped him to the ground. My mom was there. My dad could not bear to watch.
It was, to this date, the most difficult day of my life.
But will I see Max again?
You see, Max is a Golden Retriever. Call it a sin for saying this, but heaven wonít be the same if Max is not there. Or Wally. Or O.W. I could go on and on. Pets for many humans represent children. I should know.
I cared for Max as if he were my own child. I was diligent in getting him the right food, the right supplements and all the exercise a Golden Retriever could enjoy. I thought I had all the bases covered to give him a long life. And, for a large breed dog, 14 years is a long time.
I knew the day would come. I prayed about it many times. I knew it would be extremely difficult. It was one of those days in the future my small brain could not comprehend happening. I simply did not want to face it.
But face it I did.
For weeks, months thereafter I would look at my watch every Monday morning at 8:40 a.m. and know I had just passed an anniversary of sorts. When I went somewhere I hadnít been to in a while or heard a song I hadnít heard in a year, I would think, the last time I came here or heard that song Max was alive.
Then I started thinking. Was taking that final look at Maxís body on the ground the last I would truly ever see my childhood friend again?
I had convinced myself prior that animals do indeed go to heaven. But the Bible says nothing. It began nagging on me. Could our Lord, who blesses us with furry friends and gives a select few the ability to love his creation, really deny us eternity with those who loved us back unconditionally? Jesus loves us unconditionally.
So I searched.
The Bible is chock full of references to animals. Revelations 19:11 mentions Jesus returning on a white horse. Romans 8:22 says all of creation groans for His return. When man sinned, all of Godís creation was affected. Not just the sinner.
If God does not forget five sparrows sold for two cents as Jesus said in Luke 12:6, would he not also welcome the birds into salvation? When Isaiah says in 65:25 that the wolf and lamb will graze together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, is this merely symbolism that a Christian and his or her earthly enemy will dine together in peace?
Humans have a choice in their destiny. Animals do not. Therefore, the wolf and the lamb cannot be symbolism, as the enemies of Christians will not be dining with Christ and His children. Isaiah 11:6 says a small boy will lead the calf and lion together. Clearly, Godís whole creation will be just as He intended it to be. In Harmony.
Though the King James Version of the Bible is the most difficult to read, it is the translation that follows as close to the original ancient text as any translation today. The King James version states in Genesis that God breathed into man and animals the breath of life. Counter that with one of todayís more popular translations - The New American Standard - nowhere does it read God breathed the breath of life into animals. However, this ďbreath of lifeĒ can be translated into soul.
Genesis 7:21-22 states all life perished in the flood. Even the NAS version reads, ďall in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.Ē
Animals came into being by a Living Being. A Living Being gave animals a soul.
There is also something striking about the Genesis account of creation. Animals were created before man. Whether you are a believer in the old or new earth theory of creation, God enjoyed His furry four-legged friends first. Whether it was for a 24-hour day or a million years.
I would think it the highest form of arrogance and selfishness to succumb to the belief that man is the only creature allowed into the Kingdom. Created last, the purveyors of sin and the reason why God had to send His only begotten Son - to save man from himself. And, weíre the only ones allowed to enter His kingdom? There are songs sung every Sunday that say we are not worthy. And yet, animals who did no wrong, were created before man and suffer the consequences of man are somehow undeserving of eternity with their Creator.
Remember, animals are sinless. Man is not.
Lions and lambs are not compatible because of man. A nursing child cannot play by the hole of a cobra because of man. Yet, all this will change upon Jesusí return on a horse.
I realized something happened that morning of April 1, 2002 I was unable to recognize in my grief. It didnít settle in until months later. It had never happened before, nor has not has happened since. In fact, given the opportunity to go back to that day, I perhaps might take it.
Of course, it would offer a chance to see Max again. But why would I even consider reliving that day? It was the closest I had ever felt to the Lord. I cannot explain it. I didnít know it then, but He was grieving right along side of me. It took months to feel His presence, but He was there. In hindsight, there was a peace in my grief I had never before experienced. If animals are unsaved, why would God bother to comfort me in my grief? If animals are not important enough for salvation, why then would I be created to find enough importance in taking care of and grieving for my dog?
Perhaps there is an explanation why the eternal destination of animals is not clearly stated in the Bible. Itís a given.
But manís eternal destination is not.
Does Jesus want to see the joy in your eyes when you are reunited with a pet you havenít seen in 20 or 30 years? Of course, He wants you there more than anything. Jesus does not worry about his lesser creatures, He worries about man.
Is Max waiting for me to throw him his ball? Is your cat waiting for you to comb her hair? Is your pooch waiting to lick your face?
When our beloved dog, Lady, died one of my sisters asked my father if she (the dog) would go to heaven. His answer?
"Martha, if you need Lady to be in heaven in order to be perfectly happy, then Lady will be in heaven."
Animals are part of your family. I went through this with a 4 yr old Great Pyrennes. The bible says God will make all things new. He doesn't say except your pets. He knows our hurt. I tell my friends at the dog club that animals go to heaven but make sure that they do.