By Curtis Shelburne: Religion columnist
Lots of things change as we get older. If you don’t believe that, just take a look at your kids. And I don’t even have to look that far. I can just look at my kids’ dogs.
Ol’ Zeke, the college dog, is a Great Dane. Our son Chris called home from school one day to report that he’d found a great deal on a Great Dane. (There is no such thing.) All he had to do was drive a few hundred miles to pay for him and pick him up. That was about nine years ago, and the gentle giant has lived at our house for at least seven of those. Now the big guy has gone to live with his real master to guard my granddaughter’s homestead. Zeke is the only member of the family who is as gray as I am.
Then there’s Zig. Zig is daughter-in-law Amy’s dog, an old pug with a lot of character. He loves my granddaughter Brylan almost as much as I do, and that’s saying a lot. Brylan’s learning to sleep in her own bed, but only if she can look over whenever she stirs, open a sleepy eye, and see Zig snoozing nearby.
Pugs always look like little old wrinkled men, but ol’ Ziggy Boy, as Brylan calls him, is getting on up in years. Gone are the fond days when he used to go fishing whenever he liked, jumping into the backyard pond and chasing the goldfish and coy. (He actually ended up at the vet once because of too much fishing. Fungus was growing between his fisher-dog toes.)
Zig has always produced more than his share of interesting sounds, but now he just seems to start wheezing and coughing for no apparent reason. He looks like my hero, Winston Churchill, and I halfway expect to see him round the corner gripping a cigar between his teeth.
We’re all getting older, even Zeke and Zig. I keep asking them how their perspective has changed over the years, but they just sigh, roll over, and fade into sweet rabbit-chasing (or pond-fishing) dreams. Then, hearing no answer but canine snores, I ask myself.
Good question, I answer.
All the most important things I have ever believed, I still believe. But my list of what is truly important is a great deal shorter than it once was.
I probably have more questions about life than I’ve ever had. But I’ve learned that two or three important answers are all we really need to put all the questions into perspective, to wit: God really is good, God really is loving, and all of God’s love, goodness, and grace is ours through his son.
Perspective. I could go on.
Bigger and more is not necessarily or even usually better.
Most of what our society counts as success isn’t.
People are more important than issues.
People are more important than organizations, but organizations thrive when you take care of people.
Grace is real, and always available for real people. And God likes real people. We’re more trouble than ol’ Zeke’s ever been. But he loves us anyway. Always. Completely.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org