In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. His grave leveled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; although no human interest seemed to attach to it, the sacred spot was not disregarded and forgotten.
For fourteen years, the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guarded the grave until his own death in 1872. James Brown, the old curator of the burial ground, remembers Gray’s funeral, and the dog, a Skye terrier called “Bobby”, was, he says, one of the most conspicuous of the mourners. The grave was closed in as usual, and next morning “Bobby”, was found, lying on the newly-made mound.
This was something which old James could not permit. There was an order at the gate stating in the most intelligible characters that dogs were not admitted. “Bobby” was accordingly driven out, but next morning he was there again and was discharged for the second time.
The third morning was cold and wet, and when the old man saw the faithful animal, despite all chastisement, still lying shivering on the grave, he took pity on him, and gave him some food. This recognition of his devotion gave “Bobby” the right to make the churchyard his home, and from that time until his own death he never spent a night away from his master’s tomb.
Often in bad weather, attempts were made to keep him inside the chapel, but by dismal howls, he succeeded in making it known that this interference was not agreeable to him, and he was always allowed to have his way. At almost any time during the day he could be seen in or about the churchyard, and no matter how rough the night, nothing could induce him to forsake that hallowed spot, whose identity he so faithfully preserved.
This story illustrates the faithfulness of a dog. Can you imagine what our world would be like if people would demonstrate and live out this level of devotion toward Christ? The Apostle Paul, encouraging the church, expresses the characteristic of faithfulness as one of the fruits of the spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV).
Certainly, faithfulness and the other fruits of the spirit lived out in our day-to-day lives would make this world a better place, and God would be glorified.
Dr. Steven M. Lennertz
Eagle Ridge Church