God Of All Creation: Life Lessons From Pets And Wildlife, by James Robison with James Randall Robison
It is little surprise that people would look to animals for spiritual insights. Such phenomena are well known from the Bible itself and go back thousands of years at the very least. Some three thousand years ago, after all, Solomon told the sluggard to go back to the ant and the obscure Agur was pondering the insights to be gained from obscure animals and their behavior in the book of Proverbs, to give but a few examples of this common phenomenon. It is therefore to be expected that a Christian writer who was at least somewhat observant to the animals around him and interested in exploring the glories of God’s creation would seek to write a short book like this one where he explored the relevance of animals to contemporary spirituality and came up with generally unsurprising conclusions. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and given the sort of material that can be written about spirituality as it relates to animals, certainly far better than the floor in such matters, but I was hoping for a discussion of the question of God’s care for animals and its possible implications for the world to come. Still, this is a book well worth appreciating.
This book is about 150 pages long and is made up of 28 short chapters that average a bit more than 3 pages apiece. These essays examine the spiritual implications of animals from a Christian perspective in several ways. At times the author draws abstract messages from his own interactions with pets, as when he talks about God’s voice calling us the way that we would call an errant dachshund (1), or the fact that God will chase us (2), or that we were created for a purpose (3). The author talks about stickers (4) as well as the importance of making God look good (5) and being good for goodness’ sake (6). The author comments on being sensitive to every sound (7) as well as the dog that refused to learn (8), the insights gained from a blind dog (9) as well as the whipped puppy (10). There are discusses of a beloved animal habit of tilting one’s head, something I do myself (11), as well as warnings (12) and traps (13) and living under the hand of God (14). Other chapters discuss incomplete loves (17), why we don’t feed foxes (18), and the dangers of baby rattlesnakes (19), strays (20), and the short life of mayfly (21), as well as the dangers of chasing cars (25) and dealing with the death of beloved animals (28).
By and large this is a book that is easy enough to celebrate. If the author’s thoughts are not particularly unconventional or striking, they are certainly solid reminders of the way that the animals around us can help prompt us to recognize spiritual insights. If these insights are not always daring that does not mean that they are not important. Understanding the compassion of God to use despite the wide gulf that exists between him and ourselves can help us to be more understanding with animals and to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Gaining insight and perspective from seeing the struggles and foibles of animals helps us to become more reflective and humble people, and that is a very worthwhile goal to attain. There is enough wisdom in life that we need to learn and that we often lack in our lives that we should not look down on any source of gaining that wisdom, even if it is small dogs or animals that we encounter in the wild and whose ways we are a stranger to. The author stands in a long line of successful writers who have drawn insight from the animal world, and that is worth appreciating.