A friend loves at all times; Proverbs 17:17 (WEB)

I am sad this week because I am saying good-by to a friend. He is dying. I will miss him. He has loved our family since the first day he came through our door. He was a very special friend to my son, James. When James was so sick from chemo, his buddy would sit quietly, knowing that James had no strength to say or do anything. Then as James felt better the next day and the next, his buddy was ready to play and make him laugh. I cried on his shoulder many times. He was an encouragement to all of us in so many ways. His name is Barnabas and he is our dog.

God made all the creatures. It is amazing to go to a zoo or look at a National Geographic magazine; visit Sea World and see the many wonders God has made. Each one has a function in God’s plan. We might call it “the Circle of Life” but it is God’s circle! He created the laws of nature. It is in the domestic animals that I see another facet of God’s love for us. Dogs and cats (yes, there are other ‘kinds’ of pets!) can become an important member of a family. I remember as a little girl, learning how to take the responsibility of feeding my cat every day and cleaning his litter box. I didn’t have a younger sibling so the cat taught me about caring for something helpless and in need of my care.

I know there are some people that do not believe that our pets will be in heaven with us. I believe they will be. My Father brought these pets into my life and has blessed me with their presence. He knows my heart and how much I want Barnabas to be a part of the glorious eternal life that is to come. And if it ends up that it isn’t God’s plan for me to see Barnabas again, I will be so happy in heaven with Him that I will not be upset about that detail.

Friends are a gift from God. I must be wise to discern the people who come into my life that He wants to be truly my friend. Not everyone who comes into my life is to be that close to me. After I committed my life to Jesus, one of the hardest changes in my life was to disassociate myself from a close relationship (friendship) with people who were not good for me. God is not telling me to be an isolationist but I am also not to give myself in friendship to everyone I meet. Jesus had only 12 close disciples. He only took three to key events in his ministry. And only the Father knew everything.

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.” (a traditional Girl Scout lyric of unknown origin) I will celebrate my friend’s short but meaningful life this week. I thank God that He brought this friend to our family. Take time today to thank God for friends.

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