“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”, cries the psalmist. The words dance off of the page and crash into my heart. The final verse of the final psalm of the psalter. The scriptures paint a beautiful portrait of God’s heart for His creation. Each brush stroke skillfully brings depth and form to the overarching theme and message. This final sentence of the book of Psalms serves as a climactic finale of poetic words revealing the purpose of all creation, human and animal alike. What does it mean to “praise the Lord”? In Psalm 148, the psalmist called on all of creation to praise the Lord including angels, wild animals, birds and cattle. As I consider the Bulldogges that I share my life with, I imagine what it could mean that they should praise the Lord. I continue to ponder the implications that all of creation, both animals and humans, are called to celebrate, elevate and illuminate their Creator.
The revelation that praise and worship flow out of creation when it functions as it was designed to function directs my heart and thoughts onto my nugget of a pup, Clementine. I’m overcome with joy and gratitude simply because of her existence. Her mere presence enriches my life in countless ways. My heart bubbles over with emotion as she rushes to greet me, bursting with joy. I’m utterly undone as unrestrained love bounds toward me. A sense of awe and wonder wash over me as she communicates her strong opinions about the world she lives in. I’m enamored by the precision and perfection of who she is in her entirety. Her thoughts, motives and desires are so beautifully complex. She’s affectionate, emotional, intelligent, opinionated and bossy. She’s a light in this dark world, a shooting star burning up the sky. Everything about this exquisite creature brings glory to the One who knit her together and animates her with his very breathe.
Animals, not just dogs, are arrows pointing to God. They are love and grace embodied, vehicles of the majesty and mercy of God. God loves life so much that he creates it in seeming endless variety. The beauty and complexity of it all leaves me awestruck. All of creation, all creatures, participate in the symbiotic relationship of the cosmos. All life is significant and filled with purpose. To fulfill that purpose is to praise the Lord. When creatures are entirely what God designed and desires them to be they bring Him glory. That’s the praise that His heart desires. That’s the heart cry that comes cascading from the psalms as mountains, trees, angels and animals join in praising the Lord. Eden restored. That’s the trajectory of the universe, spinning and toiling toward the fulfillment of resurrection life. My heart smiles at the thought of dogs praising God by just being who they were created to be. It’s inspiring and convicting.
While the birds observe the time of their migration, disobedient humans “do not know the ordinance of the Lord” (Jer. 8:7). Jeremiah’s contrast between birds and humans brings into sharp focus the upside down nature of things. Animals naturally do the will of the Lord. They can be no other than who they are created to be. They glorify their creator in all of their ways. This is why dogs are generally delightful. They will always be who God designed them to be. They are genuine, sincere, faithful and pure. Their presence is comforting because the peace and love of God radiates in and through them. They’re unable to deviate from their true selves. It’s as easy as breathing, inhaling and exhaling. They embrace the life that God gives to them and they generously give that life in return.
I’m humbled by the thought.
“Lord, thank you for animals, especially Bulldogges, who model what it means to truly praise You. May I never become complacent in response to the magnificence and splendor of the animals who grace my life. May I never lose my sense of wonder and may I learn to praise You as perfectly as they do.”