James 4:13-14 – Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (NIV)
As I lifted Hoss, my eleven-year-old standard wire-haired dachshund onto the bed, I noticed that he was quite bloated. Mmm, I wonder what he's been eating outside, was my first thought. Then, turning out the light, we all settled down to sleep.
During the night, I awoke and put on the bedside lamp to check if Hoss was any better. He wasn't. In fact, he seemed worse. Lifting his upper lip, I checked his gum colour and was not impressed. They were very pale.
At four a.m., I arose and felt the need to get showered and dressed, and to complete both inside and outside chores before calling the vet at six.
At six a.m. I made the call. After I filled in the vet on Hoss's condition, she asked if I could bring him in. I already had my truck running and was prepared for the two-hour journey. Loading Hoss up, I drove off into the darkness. Little did I know how dark the trip would end up being.
Two-and-a-half hours later, I stood looking at an ultrasound picture that revealed a huge blood tumour on Hoss's liver which had ruptured and was bleeding into his abdomen. Horrified by this totally unexpected revelation, I also knew that there was only one solution to the problem.
After a tearful goodbye to my beloved friend, I headed back out into the darkness for the long drive home. The vet had explained that the tumour was a very slow-growing type and that there are normally no symptoms whatsoever, until it ruptures and bleeds out. There was nothing anyone could have done.
As I considered this diagnosis and the end result, I was very thankful. I was thankful that Hoss had been running about happy and carefree up until the last twelve hours of his life. I was thankful that God had given me the wisdom to get up and get moving that morning and to get him up to the vet when I did. He was uncomfortable, but not yet in pain. That would have come in agony if I had waited. I was thankful for a kind and compassionate veterinarian who had acted with skill and kindness. And I was thankful for all the years that I had shared with a unique character of a canine who had changed my life for the better.
Once again, I also considered how when we go to bed at night or wake up in the morning, we never know what unexpected happenings may come our way. So, it is always best to live our lives in such a way so as not to regret the decisions that we make from day to day.
It is always best to trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and not to lean upon our own reasoning, but in all our ways to acknowledge Him, that He might direct our paths. For indeed, each of us is but as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes only too soon.
Prayer: Father God, thank You that though we are in many ways but a vanishing mist, when we trust in You each and every day, we can also know that when our time comes to fly away from this world, just as Hoss left me with good and indelible memories, the lives that we have lived will also leave a marvellous testimony to others of Your loving kindness and mercy. May it be the kind of testimony that not only gives our life meaning now and for eternity but also brings glory to Your kingdom. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.
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