Who Let the Hogs Out???

Last week I met a professional hog hunter. My friend R.J. and I spent 6 days backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. Late one afternoon we were trudging into our camp for the night and there in the shelter was a 30.06 hunting rifle leaning up against the wall and the hunter stretched out nearby taking a nap before the start of his work day.

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?We later learned that in the 1950’s some hogs escaped from a local farm and became illegal residents of the park. In the subsequent decades their population has exploded and they are wreaking havoc! These nocturnal feral hogs literally tear up the forest floor rooting for food – larvae, grubs and roots. These non-native intruders are doing severe damage to the natural environment – destroying native plants and young saplings. We witnessed with our own eyes the damage left in their wake – it looks just as if a roto-tiller has gone through the area. In fact, sections of the park our now fenced off in hopes of protecting certain fragile plant and tree species from the hogs.

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?So in recent years hog hunters have been employed by the park to eradicate these pests. The hog hunters typically leave camp shortly before dusk and stay out in the woods until 2-3 AM. Using night vision equipment, they stealthily track and kill the hogs – without mercy or compassion. While hunting is usually not allowed within a national park – these hogs have been identified as enemies to the ecosystem that must be eliminated. The health of the mountain environment is at stake.

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?When those farm hogs escaped in the 50’s, probably no one really cared; what harm could a few overgrown pigs do?

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?Now let me apply this little slice of life to our spiritual lives. God warns us to “not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27). A little compromise can lead to an eventual moral collapse, a casual neglect of our relationship with God can lead to a stone-cold heart that no longer even desires his presence, a bad habit tolerated can evolve into a life-style diametrically opposite to what we would have ever once envisioned. A foothold isn’t much space – it’s just enough to get started… an occasional night of partying, a tolerance for a little soft-core porn, a laziness that allows us to go weeks without reading God’s word, a seemingly justifiable bitterness toward someone who has wronged us, maybe an unkind attitude toward those who are different from us…

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?Any “wild hogs” running loose in your spiritual ecosystem?

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