A short time ago, I went out to our lighted American flag that was whipping very briskly in the bitter cold of this January night here in NE Ohio. As is my custom, upon my first pass of the flag each day, I stop, come to attention and render a hand salute with a prayer, “May God bless America and may America bless God.” Tonight, my purpose was to lower the flag to half-staff. Ohio Governor John Kasich issued a proclamation for the State House and for all state property in Stark County, Ohio to render their flags to half-staff from dawn this day until dusk in honor of the service given by “Jethro” a Canton Ohio Police K-9 that was shot multiple times by a repeat felon who also fired upon the officers responding to the burglary he had just committed.
Jethro succumbed to his wounds after hours of surgery and wonderful care by the doctors and staff at the Canton Veterinary Emergency Hospital. In a few hours, a memorial service will honor this fallen four-footed officer and his fellow cops will mourn his passing while honoring his service.
There are the nay-sayers, the people who berate cops for any reason and some who are trying to find reasons now to use this as a time to spew their putrid bilge. But this isn’t about them, because they are not worth wasting words upon them or their actions. One person decried in an on-line spew about the tax dollars involved. I wish I knew that person so I could offer to pay the few cents out of each of his annual tax bills that would go toward the care and feeding of these brave animals. But what truly struck me was the contrast between those callous remarks and a statement by Jesus Christ, Himself.
Jesus was teaching His disciples to help them understand better the Kingdom of God and how they need not live their lives in fear. He explained that even a sparrow, who, in Jesus’ time, would be sold for one copper coin, could not fall to the ground without God knowing it and having care for it. Even the tiny sparrow’s death catches God attention. I have no doubt that when such a brave canine as Jethro was battling for life that God allowed His angels to attend and I know that His Holy Spirit is with Jethro’s partner and fellow officers and their families to help comfort them this day and in the days and months ahead.
I have often been asked if there are animals in heaven. Anyone who loves an animal knows that they have within them some incredible sense of spirit. It is not a soul such as we know a human’s soul, but there is something in an animal’s eyes when you know they are privileged to understand some things that we do not! Just ask my horse – I know she knows things that she is not telling me! The Bible speaks of horses in heaven. In fact, Christ and all of His church return to earth on horses at the end of the thousand-year reign before the new heaven and earth are created. When that new earth is created, I have no doubt that there will be animals for even the Bible tells us that the lion will lie down with the lamb. I expect to do some incredible fishing on the new earth although I’m not certain what it will be like to fish and have no need to be aware of the time since time will be no more! Since the Bible says there will be animals that raises the question… will they be newly created animals or will they be ones we have known in our lives or some mixture of both? On that, the Bible is silent; so I must not be dogmatic about whatever I might think could be, just as I am less than dogmatic about my fishing.
The Bible is clear, though, that God cares for every living thing and as much as He cares for Jethro and every other animal that serves law enforcement and the fire and rescue services, whether they be horses or dogs; He cares for their partners, the human ones, even more.
The Chief of Canton PD stated to the press that he believes Jethro saved his human partner’s life and maybe the other officer’s life as well. Of that, I have no doubt. God knew that Jethro would take a bullet that perhaps could have taken one or two of the responding officers. Those officers remain behind, commissioned to continue to serve and to walk into harm’s way to keep law and order in their community. But more than that, they go forward carrying a responsibility to see to it that Jethro’s death was not in vain. That is quite a burden to carry and God is fully aware of its weight.
Christ is the One who gave of Himself so that neither of those men, nor any other, has to carry their burdens alone. God has a purpose for each of their lives just as He has one for each of ours. One thing is certain, death will come for each of us unless Christ returns. When either of those events happen, we will see our Savior, face to face. Then, will it not be wonderful to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”?
Just perhaps, before Jethro’s life was completely gone, Jesus may have wrapped His arms around Jethro’s neck, stroked his fur and whispered in his ear, “well done, well done.”