Obituary for Skeeter

We lost our Rat Terrier, Skeeter, last night. He probably had cancer, but when he got sick he declined very fast and thankfully didn’t have to suffer.

Skeeter was born in December 1995 and went to be with his companion, Shellie, October 16, 2009. He would have been 14, that’s almost 98 in dog years.

Skeeter was a contrary little fellow, and not everyone loved him as my daughter Rachael and I did. When we got him he had been abused and like so many abused children, he carried the emotional scars all his life. Those scars sometimes made him not trust people and seem unlovable.  But he did love us in his own way and even thought he could be unpredictable, he never growled, sniped, bit or even turned his lip at my grandson Christopher. Not even when Christopher tried to crawl into Skeeter’s kennel with him – a sacred place to Skeeter and not to be broached by humans.

Skeeter loved to play fetch and would bring you his toy to throw as long as you would throw it. He’d drop it at your feet and if you didn’t reach to pick it up in a timely manner, he bark as if to remind you it was your turn.

The strongest attachment he made was with an older woman – our dog Shellie, a lab mix. They would sleep next to each other and howled at the fire truck sirens together. As Shellie aged and seemed to have trouble getting around, he would stay by her side as if to be her guide. When Shellie died, Skeeter went into a depression for several days and would not eat or even come out of his kennel.

The first time Skeeter fell into the swimming pool, I ran to get him out because he was sinking and about to drown. Instead of licking me with gratitude, he tried to bite me. Not because he was angry at me, but because he was scared and he lashed out at the closest thing to him. He just wanted to get to his safe place and dry off by himself. We later learned that Rat Terriers are the only breed of dog that do not have an instinct to swim or dog paddle.

What God showed me is we are often the same way. We react out of hurt or anger and in so doing hurt the very person who loves us the most. Instead of receiving the love and help we are being offered, we reject it and end up feeling alone and wet. We’ll even lash out at God as if He caused our hurt, as if He pushed us into the pool. But He is the one who truly loves us most, warts flaws, hang-ups and all.

1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Warts and all God loves us.

Thank you Skeeter for teaching me the blessing of loving the unlovable.

Peace and blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ,


Lessons of Michal

“Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31, 32, The Amplified Bible)

Over and over in the New Testament we are warned against allowing bitterness into our lives. In the passage above, the Apostle Paul says to let it “…be banished from you”. That’s pretty strong. The key to doing that is found in the following verse:  “… forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”  When we hold on to unforgiveness, bitterness is allowed to take root in our hearts and from there grows resentment, anger and ill will.

We justify ourselves by focusing on what was done to us by someone one else. “You just don’t know what he said to me” or “You don’t know what she did”. But God didn’t say “forgive them if they deserve it”. He only instructed us to forgive and to banish all bitterness from us. When we allow unforgiveness and bitterness to remain in our hearts, we are the ones who bear the consequences.

“The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” (Proverbs 14:10) When we wallow in self-pity, we wallow alone.

One example in the Old Testament is the story of David and Michal. Theirs was a love story turned bad. (You can read their entire story in 1 Samuel chapters 18, 19 and 25, and 2 Samuel chapters 3 and 6.)

Michal was the younger daughter of King Saul, the sister of Jonathan, and she was David’s first wife. First Samuel 18:20 says she loved David and after they were married, she defied her father and helped David escape when Saul was trying to kill him. (1 Samuel 9:11-19) Years passed, and she was abandoned by David. Her father gave her to another man in marriage and David took other wives. After Saul died, David finally decided to send for her. By this time he has six sons, all by different wives. Michal is not coming home to a husband whose has been lonely and yearning for her.  And she is forced to leave a husband who probably loves her. 2 Samuel 3:16 says “But her husband went with her, weeping behind her all the way to Bahurim.” We don’t have any details of their reunion, but I suspect it probably was not the joyous reunion of long lost lovers.

The next detail of their story we have in Scripture, takes place when King David brings the Ark of the Lord to Jerusalem and he danced “with all his might” before the Lord. It was a great time of celebrating. David made burnt offerings and peace offerings to God. He blessed all the people with cakes and meats – it was a party. The Scripture says he returned to bless his household and Michal came out to meet him.  Nothing can throw a wet blanket on a good time like an angry, bitter woman. She accosted David and tried to shame him about his behavior. Michal had let her anger and bitterness turn to hatred.

David was not moved by her tirade. His heart was right with the Lord at that moment and he knew what he had done was approved by God. He let her know he would continue to worship the Lord who had chosen him to be king.

The sad end to the story just says “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” (2 Samuel 6:23) Years of hurt, anger and bitterness had finally bubbled out and she bore the consequences. To be without a child in that day was a sign of God’s displeasure.  No doubt it was a continued source of pain for her to the end of her life.

Michal had a right to be hurt by David actions – he’d abandoned her, taken other women and then forced her back with him. Sometimes we have the right to be hurt by others actions or words, but we must not allow that hurt to fester into bitterness and anger. It’s for our own good that we must forgive others as Christ has forgiven us.

“Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time.”
(Hebrews 12:14-16, The Message)

By choosing to hold on to her anger, bitterness and hurt, Michal missed all the blessings that could have been hers. She was left out of David’s generosity. She could have joined the party and received the blessing David wanted to share with his household. She could possibly even had a child.

What blessings are we missing by holding on to things from the past? If we want the Holy Spirit to heal our past hurts, we must first chose to forgive and chose to let go of any bitterness we may be holding on to.  Sometimes we don’t feel like we can forgive but we’re not called to do it on our own power. We can’t. We may not even want to. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God will give us the grace to forgive if we make the decision and chose to forgive. And with forgiveness comes peace. With forgiveness comes the joy of knowing we’re walking in obedience to God.

Peace and blessings to you all from our Lord Jesus Christ