Tuesday, May 01, 2012
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed recently, which is a nice way of saying I was cranky. It hadn't been a superb week, so perhaps my snappish self emerged from hibernation that morning. By sundown, my attitude had gone from snappish to cantankerous to pretty much porcupineish. Usually, I try to find humor or a hobby to enjoy, but that didn't really help. Since my quills were coming unglued—and sticking into my loved ones—I did a little study of porcupines; the news wasn't so likable. Just read on:
1) The word porcupine means "spined pig" or "quill pig." That day, I could relate.
2) The porcupine uses its sharp quills for body armor. If the porcupine hits an animal with its quills, the quills become embedded in the animal; and each quill has about a dozen barbs. Once implanted in an attacker's flesh, the barbs swell from the surrounding skin moisture and heat which force the quill in deeper. Death can occur if an infection sets in or if the quill prevents the victim from swallowing water or food.
3) Finally, porcupines are solitary, isolated animals.¹
It's nothing new to discuss people and their animal-like traits. Take a good look at Scripture. Remember the hard-working ant, the gentle dove, the shrewd serpent, and the sparrow's needs being supplied by Christ? Most commonly in Scripture, people are referred to as sheep; now that's one humbling study! Porcupines are never mentioned in Scripture, but that doesn't mean we're off the hook. So often, Christians behave like porcupines, which is so opposite to God's desire that Christians be in harmony with others—that is, with others, they are honest, kind, peace-giving, merciful, and gracious, to name a few.
As I pondered that porcupineish day I had experienced, some saddening similarities between porcupines and my attitude sunk into my soul. Thus, we in the body of Christ need to remember a few things:
1) We often are well armored and prepared to fight against what we don't like.
2) When we don't like "whatever"—and the list can be endless—we speak words which sink quill-like into another's soft soul.
3) When we attack others, the barbs sink deeply, and those people can suffer from the pain of being attacked. Some quills we use have names: gossip, betrayal, rejection, pride, false hope, pretense, judgment, and resentment. Thus, our porcupineish actions cut off the circulation to Christ's transforming work.
4) Finally and most specifically for many within the disabled population, church often is a place where porcupines reside. Many visitors to a church may never return because of the quill punctures they receive to their already beaten-down souls.
If you act like a porcupine, you have work to do. I apologized to my family for being armored and quilly. And my own soul has been pierced with many barbs, but the Lord can remove them if I'm humbled and willing to let Him do so. That's one I'm working on today as I write.
Do you need to take off the quilled body armor? Then ask for forgiveness, help someone in need, and speak with kindness. Or have you been pierced by a porcupine? Then pull out the quills of bitterness . . . PULL THEM OUT! Remember, we are all sheep that need direction. The Lord can guide us past the porcupines . . . and make sure we don't take on their qualities as well.
1. NatureWorks, "North American Porcupine," New Hampshire Public Television, http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/porcupine.htm (accessed April 24, 2012).
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