After Skipper and Yoder we looked for a purebred Golden Retriever. We found a breeder up near Butler, Ohio and talked him into selling us the runt of the litter. We brought her home and she never wore a lead. She never spent an hour in the dog run. She was never put on a chain. Her name was Ginger. At the time we lived on a farm in a valley on a dead-end road and Ginger had the run of the farm. She loved it and we all loved her.
We had her there for three years then we had to move. When we moved it was a difficult time and I had trouble just staying ahead of my basic responsibilities. None of us were able to pay attention to Ginger during that time. We divided our time between a tiny apartment in town and an old house out in Walhounding miles from anywhere where our things were stored. The house was little more than a deer cabin. We were waiting for a permanent home to become available. It was the heart of winter. At the time Wes was just a few days old and we were concerned for his adjustment and Lois’ health. It was difficult to get to the house. Our cars were uncooperative. We were too embarrassed to ask for help.
Every few days I would go out and get something and check on things at the house. Ginger stayed there alone. During one period I was not able to get there for quite a few days. When I did finally get there Ginger was gone. I was sick at heart. I drove all the back roads looking for her wherever I could, asking everyone I saw without success. I drove back and spent whole days driving every road within miles and could not find her.
I had so much to do I couldn’t spend all my time looking for her. I consoled myself with memories of stories of dogs that made journeys of hundreds of miles across rugged wilderness to return to their masters. I wondered if she had made her way back to the farm where we had lived when she was a pup. I drove there to see. She had not. We never saw Ginger again.
Years have passed now, more than eight of them and I still think of that with sadness. It is one of my regrets in life. One of my “if onlys.” If only I had asked for help from a friend to board her we would probably still have her today.
The regret of losing a pet is nothing to be compared with the regrets millions will experience in eternity when they realize they wasted their lives on things that do not matter. They spent their lives gathering things that they had to leave behind. They wasted their years building sand castes that will wash away in the waves of eternity. They squandered their energy spinning plates and neglected the things that really last. They did not seriously consider where they stood with God or where they would spend eternity. They felt guilt but never found forgiveness from their sin through Christ.
Jesus told a story of a man like that in Luke sixteen. He was rich but he failed to plan for eternity. He died and went to hell. In hell he prayed. Some who never prayed on earth will pray in hell. They will pray for relief from torment. In hell millions will lift up their voice to heaven and cry out to God to send people to warn their loved ones. People who never wept for lost souls on earth will weep in hell. People who never attended a prayer meeting on earth will be praying to God in hell. People who had no concern for their eternal state or the eternal destiny of others will be filled with missionary zeal fueled by deep, bitter regret. Regret can be a painful and unrelenting torture.
Wise people consider the years that lie ahead and do today what they will wish they had done when they come to the end of their lives. Wise people seek God while they can before their days are past and their opportunities are gone and it is too late. Wise people try to live in such a way that in the end they have no regrets.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn and International Conference Center
September 15, 2003