I like being a free American. Of course, even as Americans, we are not "absolutely free." Some Americans are in prison because they tried to have absolute freedom and violated the law. The law, you know, that system that enables us to live as free Americans. An example of this are the laws that allow us to drive in a "relatively" safe environment, where drivers mutually agree to obey (more or less) the basic rules of the road. I like those laws.
I was reminded of the dangers (and sadness) of absolute freedom this past week. A couple of weeks ago, a church member called with "a problem," and it was definitely a problem. She had just brought her husband home from the hospital that afternoon. He had had a major battle with pneumonia, so he was not well by a long shot. (Note: He's better now.) They had arrived to find a dead stray dog about 20 ft. from their backdoor. (Please note this picture is of a SLEEPING dog, but you get the idea!) They had been in the hospital for several days, the daily highs were in the 99-101 range, so you can imagine the condition of the dog.
No "official" dog removal city worker was available on a Sunday afternoon, so I assured her I would take care of it. Technically, I guess I should have said, "I'll find someone to take care of it" because that's what I did by asking two of my deacons to remove the offending corpse after our monthly deacons' meeting that night. I went to "supervise," or rather, to check on the couple while the dog was removed. Yes, it was nauseating,I mean REALLY nauseating, but my great deacons prevailed, and the problem was "removed."
The next day I received a call from long time friends, Gene and Beth, who had to put their beloved Deacon to sleep. Wait, wait...their beloved "Deacon" was a sixteen year old Cairn Terrier. They loved Deacon, and he loved them; he was there for most of their two kids' childhood. It was very, very painful. He was laid to rest in a nice plot in their backyard.
Unlike the stray, Deacon lived a confined life. He was taken on daily walks on a leash, and spent most of his time in the house with his family. The stray had no such restraints; he was absolutely free. I couldn't help but notice the differences in the deaths of these two dogs. One was a nuisance, and had to be removed and discarded as garbage. The other had become a member of a family, lovingly allowed a peaceful passing to avoid additional pain due to old age. He was named, he will be remembered; he is still being grieved over. His owners are grateful they had him, loved him and was loved by him.
Our Father's commands are not meant to damage us, or to hurt us, but to enable us to experience His love so that we can better love others. As the scriptures says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5,6 quoting Prov. 3:11,12) I'll choose discipline by a Father Who truly loves me over absolute freedom anytime! I hope you do, too!