Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve BOTH MAN AND BEAST. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. Psalm 36:5-10
How much does God care about you? Does He know you personally and intimately? Does He care about your struggles? Is He able to deliver you from them? Is He willing? What if I told you that God even cares for your pet and knows them by name? Would you have more faith to believe in God’s personal and passionate love and care for you if you knew how much He loves and cares about your dog?
Sebastian is my parents’ pride and joy.
My siblings and I have often joked that he is the favored “child” that Dad loves more than the rest of us. Our parade of negative pet experiences while we were growing up had caused most of us to give up on ever trying to adopt animals into our families in our adult lives, so we had an exceedingly difficult time relating to Dad’s new found love for “that dog”, as we affectionately referred to him. ;~)
One Monday night in 2003 as my husband, Jesse, and I were having our normal prayer time together, my prayer was abruptly interrupted by the thought that I needed to pray for Sebastian! Jesse and I try to be sensitive to God’s leading, but this was the first time that I had ever felt led to pray for a dog. I stopped mid-prayer to tell Jesse what I felt like the Lord was saying. He responded very supportively…by laughing at me. I attempted to push the thought aside and return to my prayer, but the urge did not subside. The thoughts were so persistent that despite my husband’s amusement, I knew I could have no peace until I prayed for “that dog.”
That weekend we went to visit my parents in Arkansas. During dinner the first night we arrived, they entertained us with stories about Sebastian’s latest antics. Most of these were cute and humorous accounts, but the mood shifted when they began to share a frightening incident from earlier that week. Dad had let Sebastian out one last time before bed, unaware of an approaching storm. Moments later, a loud clap of thunder and the sound of pounding rain sent Mom scurrying to the back door to let Sebastian back inside…but he was nowhere in sight. After a fruitless search of the house, she stepped outside and, to her dismay, discovered the gate swinging open and shut in the wind. Without delay, no time to even change their clothes, my parents sprang into action, Dad in the car and Mom on foot, for a search and rescue mission around the neighborhood. Cognizant of the fact that Sebastian suffers from a terrible case of cowardice, they figured the thunder so terrified him that he was just running wild, not realizing what he was doing or where he was going. After twenty minutes of searching, completely circling the block, knocking on several neighbors’ doors to enlist their help, and even calling the police, Mom turned around just in time to see a white blur shoot across the intersection ahead of her, with only one block to spare before the blur would collide with the busiest street in town!
At this point in hearing their story, our foreknowledge that Sebastian had survived the ordeal lessened our suspense and anxiety, so I was momentarily more sympathetically engaged with the mental image of my Mom wandering the street, attired in her nightgown and raincoat, in a storm, at 11:00 p.m., screaming Sebastian’s name. As I was imagining this scene, thinking, “Oh No! My parents’ have become ‘those people’ in the neighborhood,” the Lord jolted me out of my compassionate sensitivity for the plight my parents had endured by reminding me of our prayer for Sebastian.
Immediately I blurted out,”WHAT NIGHT WAS THIS?!” When their response, “Monday”, came, I looked at Jesse, eyes wide and mouth gaping and exclaimed, “That’s the night we prayed for Sebastian!” Now it was my parents turn to look shocked and surprised. We excitedly told them what had happened during our prayer time, and they inquired with great interest, “What did you pray?!” So I recounted my simple request:
“God I don’t know why You have put Sebastian on my heart, but I pray that You bless him and protect him. I ask that You give him a long life because he has been such a blessing to my parents and has brought them so much joy.”
As we compared notes, we realized that their fiasco had taken place at the exact time that we were praying! After expressing their amazement, Mom concluded the story, telling how she had screamed Sebastian’s name, but the white blur shot out of sight, still headed toward the busy street ahead. Then a moment later, it reappeared, rounded the corner, and sprinted toward home! It WAS Sebastian! Mom had turned just the right direction, at just the right time and yelled just loud enough over the rain and noisy street ahead…by coincidence, right? Not a chance! Though Mom says it would have been miraculous even if Sebastian heard her, I like to imagine there was a huge angel blocking his path as he took his final steps toward Race Street which startled him even more than the storm had, causing him to turn tail and race back the other way. But at a minimum, I believe the Lord caused my Mom to turn in time to see Sebastian headed toward impending destruction, and caused Sebastian to hear her cry and turn back toward home. Regardless of how God accomplished it, the fact remains that Sebastian’s well being was important to God! By His Spirit, He prompted me to pray for Sebastian at the very moment of his crisis. Though in my initial ignorance, I had tried to dismiss His promptings as my own thoughts, He persisted so that I could no longer ignore Him comfortably. Through our obedience to respond to the Lord’s prompting to pray, the door was opened for God to intervene in the circumstances to rescue him!
What a powerful testimony this was for us about the need to LISTEN rather than just TALK during our times of prayer. As many have jokingly said before, “Don’t interrupt me, Lord! I’m trying to pray!” Though that joke illustrates a sad truth regarding many people’s typical approach to prayer, an even sadder truth is that many more have never even known that the Lord can and does speak to them today, and that He is desperately longing for us to learn to recognize His voice and enter into an intimate personal relationship with Him. How many close relationships do you have where the conversation is all one-sided? Our relationship with God should involve dialogue, not just monologue. God is speaking!
This instance was also a great reminder of the critical importance of being sensitive to the Lord’s voice and promptings ALL THROUGHOUT the day, and to pray for those people and situations that He brings to our mind or puts on our heart RIGHT IN THAT MOMENT, rather than making a mental note to lift them up to Him later in our designated “time of prayer”. Special times that are set aside to pray more deliberately and intensely are wonderful, but they should not be the only time we converse with the Lord during the day. He’s with us 24/7 and wants to be involved in EVERYTHING we do. How much more effective we can be in seeing the miraculous come to pass in every day life by learning to tune in to what the Lord is saying, and responding as He directs. As Brother Lawrence has encouraged the body of Christ for centuries, we should Practice His Presence! What a blessing it is to develop a continual consciousness of His abiding presence and to learn to talk to, and listen to, Him throughout the day, in ALL that we do!!
You animal lovers will be pleased to know that from the moment all this took place, the Lord put a supernatural love for Sebastian in our hearts, and he has become as beloved to us as he already was to my parents.
He is now our baby, and lives with us part of every year while my parents travel overseas. Since Sebastian experienced the Lord’s divine deliverance, out of deep gratitude he has dedicated his life to encouraging others to find a deeper relationship with God. This story is the introduction to his book that we all wrote together (the Lord, Sebastian, and I), that I hope will bless you as much as it has us someday.
My prayer is that each of you will KNOW with absolute certainty that if God loves and cares individually for every animal, that He loves and cares for you SO MUCH MORE!!!!
Copyright © Laura Jewell Tyree, 2005 (intro to Sermonettes from Sebastian: A Dog’s Advice on Relationship with The Master)
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:25-33
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7
Going on from that place, he (Jesus) went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. Matthew 12:9-13
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32