Joseph Herrin (04-22-2014)
Yesterday morning, prior to sitting down to begin writing the next chapter in the FOUNDATIONS series, I needed to walk to the mailbox with a sack full of newsletters so they could be delivered to men in prison. It was a beautiful morning here in South Georgia. The high was forecast to be about 80 degrees. I awoke yesterday morning listening to the birds singing outside my bus/motorhome. I knew that Champ, my two year old dog, would enjoy the walk to the mailbox with me.
It is about 1/4 of a mile to the mailbox. We are located in a rural area. The walk is down a dirt driveway along fields and then down a tree covered lane. Champ finds delight in springing through the grass, chasing down whatever scents he comes across. I often see him with nose to the ground, thrust deep into some thick tussock, as his tail wags excitedly. I suppose he has caught scent of some field mice and is eagerly exploring.
As we walked yesterday morning, all was beautiful and pleasant out. I was amused as I watched Champ springing through the grass. Sometimes I call him “Grasshopper” because of his penchant for bounding around in the tall grass as if his legs were made of springs. We had gone about halfway when I noticed Champ jump back suddenly from a stand of grass he had been exploring. He acted like he had been stung, and would only cautiously approach the grass again. I had him on a long retractable leash, so I coaxed him to continue to the mailbox. As we returned Champ seemed subdued, and then began acting sick. His energy which had been bounding just a few minutes earlier seemed to have fled from him. He walked slowly with his head down, and I wondered whether he had been bitten by a snake. Last year I had killed both a large rattlesnake and a water moccasin on the property, both of which are venomous snakes.
I contemplated what I should do if Champ had been snake bitten. I don’t have a car to take him to the veterinarian, and did not have the financial resources on hand even if I could arrange transport. The thought came clearly into mind to give him some Benadryl. I thought that an odd idea, as the only treatment I had ever heard of for snake bites is anti-venom. As soon as we got home I looked closely at Champ and I noticed two puncture marks on his nose.
(Click on any image to view larger)
One of them had a drop of blood oozing from it. This confirmed to me that Champ had been bitten by a snake. I hurried inside and looked up treatment for snake bite for dogs and at once found a number of links that said to give the animal some Benadryl. I “just happened” to have some on hand, as I had purchased some Benadryl allergy tablets last year to alleviate the symptoms of my pollen allergies. I found that the Benadryl makes me sleepy, however, so I did not use more than a few of them out of the package. I took one of the capsules out to Champ. It was now maybe 10-15 minutes since he had been bitten. I stuck one of the pills in his mouth. I thought I might have problems getting him to swallow it, but he gladly obliged and took the pill at once.
Champ with Half of His Face and Neck Swollen
By this time Champ’s nose was swelling up considerably. I went back inside to check a couple more links on treatment for dogs, and to e-mail some people to pray. When I went back outside I found that Champ had gone into his kennel and was laying down, which is unusual for him during the day. I knew he wasn’t feeling well. I pulled up a chair and sat with him for a while, stroking the side of his head that wasn’t swollen, and praying to Yahweh to heal him.
I believe it was Yahweh that put it into my mind at once to give Champ a Benadryl. That God showed me to do this gave me confidence that Champ would pull through. I also read that when a dog is bitten that it is better for a snake to strike them on the nose than anywhere else, as the venom has a more difficult time making it to the dog’s organs from the nose than from the legs or belly. Observing a large amount of swelling in his neck, I saw what looked like possible bite marks on his neck as well.
Champ With Swollen Neck
The timing of this experience, coming at a time when I am writing about the serpent/Satan in the garden of Eden seemed significant. I had been reading a book on this topic earlier in the morning. I was brought to reflect on the compassion Yahweh had upon Adam and Eve when they had their disastrous encounter with the serpent. James Montgomery Boice, in his book Genesis – An Expositional Commentary, wrote the following.
Someone has said, “The most pleasant of all sounds is the human voice.” But if it is true of the human voice, how much truer should it be of the voice of God. God’s voice is the most wonderful of all sounds. Yet when the voice of God was heard in the garden following Adam and Eve’s sin, the man and his wife were not drawn to it as they had been previously. They were terrified of God and hid themselves.
The problem was not in the voice, of course, for the voice of God was gentle and filled with love. God sometimes speaks in judgment; then the voice is terrifying. But this was not the case in Eden. Everything in God’s manner was as before. He came in the garden rather than descending from heaven in some spectacular show of displeasure. He was walking, not running. He arrived in the cool of the day, the most pleasant time, rather than in the heat of the afternoon or in the dark of night, when all human fears seem doubly fearful. He did not come suddenly. He came by degrees, calling as He came. No, it was not the voice or manner of God’s coming that was terrifying to Adam and Eve. It was the fact that they had sinned, and when one has sinned against God even the tenderest of voices can be frightening.
As we observe Yahweh’s actions toward Adam and Eve, we see compassion exhibited even though they had sinned. Yahweh, in seeing the shame of their nakedness, provides for them a covering of animal skins. Additionally, when speaking of the consequences of their actions, He gives them a promise of a future hope when a Seed should come forth from the woman to crush the head of the serpent.
As I looked at my dog, observed his swollen face, knowing the sting of the venom he must be experiencing, seeing his doleful countenance, I had only compassion for him. He did not go looking for a snake yesterday morning. He was not looking for trouble, or trying to be a bad dog. He was merely enjoying life, doing what dogs do. The serpent, a subtle, venomous creature, was hiding in the grass waiting to strike the unsuspecting and unwary. My immediate thought was to save the life of my dog, for though he is a beast, he is MY beast. He is under my care, and I am concerned for his welfare.
A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
Had my dog become injured doing something that I had told him not to do, such as digging through the trash, I would have felt just as concerned for his injury. Disobedience does not end our love for another creature or person. Like David lamenting over the death of his rebellious son Absalom, we can experience deep grief for another. David in his agony over his son cried out, “Absalom, my son, my son! If only I had died in your place!” This was also Yahweh’s heart toward Adam when he transgressed and immediately became subject to the law of sin and death. Yet Yahweh was able to offer His life as a substitute for man. He did so by sending His Son to die for humanity.
I experienced strong emotion yesterday as I laid my hand on my dog’s head and entreated the Father to spare his life. Compassion filled my heart as I considered this beast that has become a friend and companion to me. How much more did our heavenly Father experience compassion for the man and woman as they were awakened to the consequences of their actions? They had never known shame until that day. They had never known fear. They had never experienced the effects of sin and guilt, or sensed the need to hide from the eyes of their Creator. Now their hearts were filled with tormenting thoughts and emotions and there was no way that they could heal the hurt that the serpent had introduced to their lives.
Yahweh, in His love for His creation, found the situation unacceptable. He had the power to heal the hurt, to end man’s slavery to sin, to repair the breech between man and God, and He purposed to do so. There is no doubt in my heart that if I had the power to heal at will, I would have not hesitated to restore Champ to health yesterday. My heart was moved with compassion as I observed how his flesh had responded to the toxins injected into his body by a serpent. I am confident that the deep sympathy and yearning in my heart for my beast was a reflection of Yahweh’s heart when He observed the immediate effects of sin within the man and the woman.
I checked on Champ throughout the day yesterday, and saw no deterioration of his condition. Although his neck and face were horribly swollen, there did not appear to be any difficulty in his breathing, or in his swallowing. Yahweh was gracious, and by late afternoon Champ’s energy had returned and he wanted to play. When I came outside he ran and grabbed his tennis ball and brought it to me.
This morning Champ continued to show improvement. The swelling on one side of his neck had dissipated into a general swelling on both sides of his neck. When I greeted him, he showed his usual eagerness, and wanted to come out of his kennel and play. Right after I leashed him to his runner I saw two deer in the nearby field, and pointed them out to Champ. He was immediately arrested by their presence, and wanted to go chase away these intruders on “his” property.
The above photo was taken around 1:00 P.M. this afternoon. You can see Champ’s neck is still swollen, but he seems unconcerned and wants to play ball. He is eating good, and is enjoying another beautiful day outside. I am confident that Yahweh intends to bring him a full recovery. Hopefully Champ will be a little wiser, and more alert to the presence of snakes that like to hide in the grass.
If you are one of those who prayed for Champ yesterday, or you have experienced compassion and concern for him as you read this post, I encourage you to consider that this too is a reflection of the heart of God for His creation.
Yahweh’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
It is unnatural to lack love for that which Yahweh has imbued with life. This was the lesson Yahweh had to teach the prophet Jonah. At the end of the book that bears the prophet’s name, we have Yahweh speaking the following words to His servant.
“You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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