Tending the “Fluff of Heaven”
Apr 28, 2019 05:27AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
Who isn’t drawn right in by fluffy bunny pictures? And no, this is not a late post on the Easter bunny. :)
I’m not exactly sure how I ended up with a rabbitry. Just over two years ago, my teenage daughter came to me to ask if we could have a therapy rabbit. Just as she did when she convinced us to get two Shih Tzu puppies instead of one in 2013, she did the research and selected her breed. As it turns out, we apparently have an affinity for lion-headed animals. Shih Tzu is translated as “Chinese lion dog.” Along those lines, my daughter chose a lionhead rabbit.
Finding it to be better to procure our animals from a farm or breeder rather than a pet store, we drove an hour to get our sweet dark, Harlequin, double-maned lionhead bunny Sookie at 7 weeks of age. Well, she looks sweet. She’s actually quite skittish and anti-social. I can relate to the introvert in her that prefers her hideaway to human interaction some days.
And so a therapy bunny we indeed had until my daughter took it into her head to raise rabbits. And along came Cloud, a blue-eyed white, double-maned lionhead, about the same age as Sookie. We adopted him from a different rabbitry after hearing he was good for his stud duties.
So, we quickly charted a plan for their nuptials and family-growing, excited that we would hopefully be delighted with puffy furballs to raise. Have I mentioned that lionheads are soooo soft?
But Sookie was new to having a companion after almost two years of solitude. She took some warming up to her marital duties. Cloud was more than happy to make her a mother, but she required some courting, and he was unbelievably patient. I would sit with them, a chaperone of sorts ready to chart their first encounter during supervised times together, but after a few fruitless chases and a lot of Sookie growling about these new expectations on her, day after day they would end up just meeting at the hay bin to share a meal together. They would dip their heads toward each other, coming to some kind of agreement unknown to the humans in the room. Then they would nap.
It took 10 days. My eager 13 and 16 year old children learned a huge lesson in patience. (My college-aged child is simply glad the rabbits have not moved into his empty bedroom.) But finally, Sookie warmed up to Cloud, and the rest is history. We’ve charted the days, palpated her belly, and wrote the days on the calendar when to reduce food, increase water, introduce a nesting box, and await the arrivals. Thirty-one days of gestation…not a lot of prep time to become parents. Cloud is proud as punch pacing and occasionally thumping for emphasis. Sookie, on the other hand, is moodier than usual and can be found seeking his reassurance through the cage wall they share.
They come two by two into our Smith Family Ark. I can’t help but think that Noah would be proud. Two years ago we rescued tadpoles from our pool that became two tree frogs in our terrarium. A friend of mine and I have a laugh once in a while talking about how we’ve already placed our orders in heaven for our mansions filled with animals. Hers just might include a manatee.
But as I observe each and every creature in our home, both human and pet, I am reminded how uniquely God creates us. The dogs come along on almost every family vacation and when we are sad or sick, they sit faithfully on or next to our laps, leaning in, pressing on us. Connecting.
While the rabbits express their love differently, their amazingly soft coats (have I mentioned how soft???????) soothe us as we strum our fingers or full hands ear to tail down their backs and feel their strumming heartbeats against our legs.
One of our frogs, the male, can be caught singing early in the morning to us, or if one of us makes a shrill, loud sound, he answers back. They are eager for the hands that feed them their worms and spray down their cage.
If you are a not an animal person, maybe much of this does not make sense, although surely you’ve always been fond of at least one species at the zoo or aquarium?
My children have a schedule they keep to ensure the rabbits are clean, well-fed, watered, and their litter changed out. One of them is the keeper of the brush to prevent tangles in that beautiful fur. But life gets busy, right? They have to set a day and a time to do more than spot-check. They are responsible for the general welfare of these creatures.
But what about us?
What does the Bible say about the One taking care of us? How do we know He is there?
I love focusing on Luke 12 for these answers. I want to break each section down to draw out some important points I don’t want us to miss. By the way, it’s Jesus speaking to His disciples (and us!).
Luke 12:6-7, ESV
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Isn’t this a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty and great care? His omniscience? He considers even the sparrows worth His tender care. He knows all of the hairs of our heads. He didn’t simply create—He actively tends to us!
The overall message seems to be His provision but also a command to us, a reassurance not to fear. I could read that verse, tattoo it on my arm, and have it repeated over and over again to myself on audio, and it would still not be enough. Don’t we need this reminder every single day?
Luke 12:22-33, ESV
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”
Again, there is emphasis that we are more valuable than birds. Good to know, right? And yet, there’s that amazing word—anxious! He is saying we can rest in Him because He can be trusted.
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?”
This verse stands out to me. Want to know why? “If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that.” What is He talking about? His sovereignty. His greatness compared to us. We can’t add a single hour to our lives, so why swirl the anxiety drain when we don’t have to? (And I want to add here that I realize there are also biochemical reasons behind some anxiety. This is referring to that which is under our control with the discipline of faith.)
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”
Now the focus is on lilies and not birds, but the message is the same: God takes care of us. He did not carelessly or flippantly create and leave us on our own. He tends to the smallest, shortest lifespans of the grasses, and therefore we can believe He will take care of our needs as well.
"And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them."
Oh, oh, oh. Can we please just meditate on this for a minute:
your Father knows that you need them.
“Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Our responsibility in this is simply to seek God and His kingdom. He takes care of the rest. How many times do we start our day with that truth? That our busyness is mere scrambling when we are trying to work on our own behalf? We were not meant to be a solo act. We were meant to look up to Him for what we need.
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”
It’s our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. We don’t have to hoard our stuff, the hours of our day, or any resources because the treasure is eternal, ever-flowing, and daily provided as long as we look up to Him who provides.
Fear not, little flock.
Your Father knows what you need.
**You can follow the adventures of newlyweds Sookie and Cloud @thegivingrabbitry on Instagram.**
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.