When I was young there was a popular children’s cartoon called Tiny Toon Adventures. I don’t remember much about the show, but for some reason (that will be clear in a moment) I vividly remember the character Elmyra Duff. Elmyra was characterized by her obsession with animals. She was always chasing after some poor unfortunate animal saying “I’m gonna love you and hug you and squeeze you all to bits.”
She reminds me of my daughter.
My daughter loves anything that is alive. It doesn’t matter if it is a bug or our dog, if it has the breath of life in it, she wants to keep it (and hug it and squeeze it) often loving it to death (as is the case with several unfortunate beetles and the occasional fish). In just a few days she will turn four years old, for some reason my wife thinks this entitles her to a puppy. I don’t agree. I know what puppies are really about. They whimper all night long, pee and poop in your house, and chew through everything not made of hardened steel.
Despite my reservations, my wife and I went “puppy shopping” tonight and (not surprisingly) came home with a 6 week old lab mix for my daughter’s birthday. What did I expect?
What ever I expected it wasn’t a change of heart. Despite all the things I know about puppies, there is something undeniably endearing about them. The way they cuddle up in your lap, or paw at a ball too big for their mouth, it sucks you in. So although my life is now filled with cleaning up after the dumb thing, the puppy is here to stay and my daughter is elated.
It reminds me of what we talked about last week. In Genesis chapter 6 man has become so sinful that God has begun to regret that he made them. God himself begins to feel the painful sting of man’s sinfulness and it has so grieved the heart of God he decides to annihilate the entire human race. The Bible makes it clear that nothing will be left, God has decided they all must go. (Genesis 6:7)
But then something seemingly unexpected happens. The Bible says “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” and things begin to change. Because of this one man’s righteousness God begins to have a change of heart. He commands Noah to build an ark and bring two to eight of every kind of animal on the earth. The human race will no longer be annihilated, the righteousness of Noah has saved all man kind.
What is interesting about this sometimes overly familiar story is where the change takes place. Near the end of Genesis 8 Noah and his family exit the ark and sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord.
The Bible says
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” (Genesis 8:21 emphasis added)
It isn’t Man who has changed. No the heart of man remains evil to this day. If anything has changed in the story it is the heart of God. Even though, as the Bible says, the inclination of man’s heart is evil. Even though God regrets the very act of making them. Even though man’s sinfulness causes the heart of God great pain. He hasn’t given up on us. Instead He makes a covenant with all living things and says “Never again.” He then spends the rest of his life cleaning up man’s messes.
It seems there was something endearing about that puppy after all.
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Photo Credit: Sukanto Debnath, Flickr