God’s Word for Today: Unconditional. When one breaks this word down, it gets rather negative and heavy. But, when you add a simple “un” to it, wow, what a word. It almost seems unrealistic. I mean, how can anything or anyone be unconditional? Doesn’t everything and everyone come attached with conditions? Is this word even possible? Should not our politicians of this day maybe try to learn how to fill their elected positions unconditionally? Lord, I apologize for that comment.
There are many ways to think about unconditional. The most common, already swept thru your mind, is unconditional love. Yes, in the heat and lust of a new relationship, this word unconditional appears attainable. But, as the days add up to weeks, then months, and hopefully years, we slowly realize that people always have conditions. Part of a strong relationship is being able to accept those conditions and love in spite of them.
The only thing that might even come close to actual unconditional love here on this earth is that of love received from a pet. My life has been blessed with many pets throughout the years. Some of them intentionally sought out. Others, kinda just adopted their way into my life. Being raised on a farm, you naturally are surrounded by animals. And some of them through their unique personality capture one’s attention.
Dad loved his cattle. Every year, in a pen of 100+ weaned calves, Dad would soon have a few pets that required his daily scratching. The bulls he purchased almost all became pets. Many of the cows would follow Dad wherever he wanted them to.
Mom loved her birds. Even with brains the size of peas, they could recognize and return the love to Mom that she shared with them. I am not talking just domestic birds in a cage, although she had many. I am talking chickens, geese, and guineas. Some little feather friend would be suffering from an injustice usually brought on by others, and Mom would nurse them back to health. They then had an unconditional attachment to Mom for like, ever.
Us kids had our number of pets as well. My sister always would have one cat that somehow got to hang out in the house most of the day. Even under Dad’s protests. The one I remember most was Puff Puff. He was a rather large tom cat with a huge head and dominated the other tom cats. But in the house, he had an unconditional affection for anyone who would give him a little attention. He even had a way to exhume that attention from Dad.
I could fill pages with stories of our pets. To this day, pets are just a natural part of the Carlson family way of life. We have learned how to appreciate how very close to an unconditional love, a pet can give. To some people, this seems ridiculous. To those who have experienced it, you know exactly what I am talking about.
1Corinthians 13:7. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.
This verse is just a small part of 1Corinthians 13 that is read and used over and over for its definition of love. Verse 7 hits the nail on the head when we refer to unconditional love.
I believe God put pets in our lives for a reason. He knew the ones whom he made in his image, humans, were flawed. No matter how hard they worked at this love thing, there are many conditions. Too many faults. Too many scars from other people’s conditions. There was and is, no possible way for us to live up to verse 7.
Then along came cats and dogs and other furry and feathered creatures. I suppose even the ones with scales can get a little credit. We occasionally had fish which were never too impressive. Calming yes, impressive no. I do remember a box turtle that always came up to Grandma’s back door to eat the cat food. Primarily though, and please don’t be offended if I left out your favorite, dogs and cats are the preferred choice of pet. Although, horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, and the like run a very close second.
Let’s take cats and dogs both as an example. They each have their strong attributes. They each have their sometimes strong odors. And, they each have some discipline weaknesses. But overall, you can take a cat or a dog, or several for that matter, and fit them right in with verse 7 of 1Corinthians.
A dog will always protect, believe it or not, cats do too. Both always trust. No matter how many times you let them down, they still look at you with anticipation and trust to feed them and love them. They always hope for more of your time. A person can look you in the eyes, and behind those eyes, you can see conditions. A pet can look you in the eyes, and all you see is trust and hope. It is actually quite amazing.
Always perseveres. What can we say about that? Yes, pets seem to be a slight irritation when you think you have more important things to do. And it is easy to dismiss their demands. Sooner or later though, their unconditional love will persevere, and you are found petting them, talking to them, and playing with them. Is it not amazing how one’s troubles disappear as a pet distracts you from the weight of this world?
Today, we salute another of God’s gifts. This Christmas season, we realize the greatest gift of all, God’s Son Jesus. The only one who ever walked this earth and gave us unconditional love. We will not see that kind of love again until Jesus comes back. Until then, we have the likes of Duke, Vern, Puff Puff, Poofie, Dink, Tommy, Betty Lou, Bella, The Fat P, Coco, Brook, Miss Molly, Whisky, Dawg, Geraldine, Barney, Ollie, Whiskers, Bob, Buddy, etc.…………………….
Prayer: Dear Lord, today I thank you for the pets in my life. You have given me a gift I seldom give you credit for Lord. Forgive me for my oversight. There have been some pretty amazing and wonderful pets in my life that only you God could have created and given to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! In Jesus’ who showed us the true definition of unconditional love, name I pray. Amen.