Bob Hecox went home to Jesus on January 3, 2012.
His passion for our Lord and love for his family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main were contagious; and it must be said he helped ignite the revival that continues, deepens, and accelerates.
He would often challenge us to greater fidelity with his repeated rhetorical question, “Do you know what time it is?”
He was eschatologically aware and existentially responsible.
He knew we are in the last days and believed it’s every believer’s responsibility to call people back to Jesus by the book before it’s too late.
Not too long before Bob preceded us to eternity, he gave a statue of Francis of Assisi petting a deer to me along with a laminated bookmarker with a quote from the saint: “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”
Bob’s gifts to me bore deeper meaning when Kopper died four years later.
Only a few weeks since then – and you can read more about that day in the 1/10/16 edition of The Belvidere Daily Republican or by going to the 1/7/16 edition of www.koppdisclosure.com or checking the archives of www.churchandworld.com - I’ve been praying and thinking about what my dog continues to mean to me as a metaphor for our relationships with Him and His.
Just scratching the surface of my relationship with God and not having all of the answers about anything for anyone, here’s what I’m learning so far from God through Kopper; and please don’t think this is an exhaustive or conclusive catalogue in ascending or descending order of importance. Again, unlike Democrats and Republicans and denominational jingoists and the non-denominationally self-righteous and Islamofascistnutballs and people who are still mad at me for taking the church away from them and giving it back to Jesus, I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus and don’t know too much about anything other than the unique saving Lordship of Jesus.
I’ll get another dog.
You’ve got to read “Kopper” for a greater grasp of my needs disguised as rationale.
Aside from Kopper’s hope that our changing civil and ecclesiastical cultures would allow him to marry me if Leslie ever became totally exhausted by the insatiable demands of my increasingly high-maintenance vocation and wanted more than invisibility when it comes to my calendar, I received two very persuasive e-mails within minutes of each other from friends who get it.
The editor of the most popular biker magazine in the country wrote, “I’m sorry about the loss of your ‘bad dog’ who loved you unconditionally…May next year bring you many blessings…and maybe a new puppy…a manly one this time…but from a shelter…so one more of God’s creatures can survive. They didn’t ask to be born and they didn’t ask to be abandoned, abused or imprisoned. You can help.”
Within a few minutes after that came “A Dog’s Last Will and Testament” from an elder in Aurora:
Before humans die, they write a last will and testament,
give their home and all they have to those they leave
behind…This is what I’d ask…
To a poor and lonely stray, I’d give a happy home…my
bowl…cozy bed…toys…the lap which I loved so much…
the hand that stroked my fur…the voice that spoke my
So, when I die, please do not say, “I will never have a pet
Instead, go find an unloved dog, one whose life has held
no joy or hope, and give my place to him.
This is the only thing I can give…
The love I left behind.
Then a covenant brother sent “The Power of the Dog” by Rudyard Kipling with this powerful warning for when Kopper2 comes: “You will discover how much you care, and will give your heart to a dog to tear.”
Man gave names to all the animals.
O.K., I borrowed that line from Dylan.
I think he meant what God said over and over and over in Holy Scripture about us being stewards of animals; or caring for them while remembering God often speaks through them to us.
Ignorant people don’t know Godly demanded “dominion over” animals doesn’t mean domination or abuse or taking them for granted. It means loving care and protection.
Anyone remember how Jesus talked about “good” shepherding.
The metaphor is not limited to those created imago Dei.
I could not save Kopper from himself and others.
Salvation is God’s business; but, like you, I have a responsibility to plant seeds of salvation, speak/act/look like I’m saved myself, and pray and work to be an accomplice not antagonist to God’s desire for everybody to be saved.
I wrote down some of my initial, fresh, raw, and authentic feelings after Kopper died in my arms on December 31, 2015.
December 31, 2015 (5:57 p.m.)
In times like these, it is very, very, very hard for me to understand people who distance, divorce, destroy, and forget our call to grace, mercy, forgiveness, and agape.
I have never understood why people like to fight.
I know there’s nothing original about sin; but…
I remember a little girl saying to Pastor Harold in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, “I just don’t understand people.”
She said that after someone had been mean to her.
Just bring some love punctuated by grace, mercy, and forgiveness into all of your relationships.
Make this a happy new year for…
January 1, 2016 (6:26 a.m.)
I pray your new year is filled with grace, peace, forgiveness, agape, and the joy of Jesus.
I beg you to model Someone better in your family, church, community, and…
If we don’t, who will?
We don’t have forever to be salt, light, and leaven.
If we don’t, who will?
I learned that from Jesus.
In a way that I cannot explain, He reinforced that for me in Kopper’s life and death.
January 1 (7:39 a.m.)
You asked how I am.
Kopper provided daily affection and unconditional love for me.
He never withheld his love.
He kept me afloat in the sea of madness of being a pastor and enduring the…around me.
When I went for a walk this morning, I felt very, very, very alone.
January 2 (6:29 a.m.)
I could not save Kopper from himself or others.
God taught many lessons to me through him…I pray/hope/beg you will know that our Lord’s healing, grace, forgiveness, unconditional affection, and oasis of calm in a sea of meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance for me through Kopper has (collective for the grammar police) a deeper meaning for all of us. He is a metaphor for modeling/being Someone better in all of our relationships.
Maybe you know someone who will be blessed by this relationship.
Maybe you know someone who needs to know the lessons that God taught me for nearly a decade through a bad dog with a good heart.
I could not save Kopper from himself or others.
But, maybe, you and I can…
That’s what God taught me through Kopper.
I hope you know it was/is not about the relationship between a man and a dog; but a metaphor for something much, much, much more important about our relationships with each other reflecting our relationship with God.
Just in case you missed it while reminding myself because I have missed it in my life too often, salvation is God’s business; but we have a responsibility to plant seeds of salvation, speak/act/look like we’re saved ourselves, and be accomplices not antagonists to God’s desire for everybody to be saved.
Blessings and Love!
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