A week or so ago, as I walked through the town, I came across a lady sitting of a seat enjoying the rare bit of sun.
Sitting bolt-upright on her lap was a dog. I’m sure neither of them would object to my describing them as ‘getting on a bit’, but I noticed it particularly because they both looked so happy and healthy.
The lady smiled and the dog snuffled in my direction and wagged its tail, so I went over for a chat.
I commented on the dog’s friendliness, and the lady assured me that the dog liked everyone, both human and animal.
She went on to tell me that she fed two seemingly-homeless cats in her kitchen, and that the dog didn’t mind them a bit. In fact, she had once come across her dog, fast asleep, with one of the cats sleeping on his back.
Well, I thought, talk about the lion lying down with the lamb!
The Bible doesn’t actually say that, but it does say something very similar:
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6.
Isaiah’s wolf, leopard and lion would certainly come off better in a fight against his lamb, goat, calf, yearling or child, though I’m not sure how the elderly dog would fare if she chose to have a set-to with a cat.
But the point is acceptance among creatures that are different, and would usually be hostile to each other.
In the book of Isaiah, this scene is not a vision of heaven in the ‘hereafter’ sense, but of the Kingdom of God here on earth: the way life would be if God’s will were really done.
It’s a lovely image, with the animals accepting each other, relaxing together, and enjoying the world God has made for them. Heaven in an earthly sense, maybe.
I’m pretty sure the dog’s acceptance of the cats reflects her mistress’s acceptance of them, and of other animals and humans.
As I said, they both looked happy and healthy, so why not find your own lamb (or even lion if you’re brave enough) and try a bit of acceptance.
You could try a lie down, too.