Did you know pigs are smarter than any other breeds of family pets? We raised pigs as I was growing up but our pigs weren’t tame family pets. We didn’t raise them for pets or for show, as in FFA, but for food and as a staple to trade with other people for what they raised, like vegetables or chickens. My brother was into all sports and he knew never to aim balls or arrows in the direction of the “pig pen.” You see, these pigs were not your cute, sweet looking, domestic, little pink pigs. They may have been smart but they were ugly, dirty, and mean, extremely mean. And they grew to be very large and heavy! We kept them in a pen about 25 feet by 25 feet, I would guess. It seemed big enough, they had plenty room for their slop trough and all the mud and stinky muck they could want. Pigs roll in the mud to cool themselves down since they don’t have sweat glands and if you’ve ever been around pigs that’s all they want to do is roll around in the stinkiest mud and eat. I didn’t mind, though, because when it came slaughter time their pen would be cleaned and then become my play pen. I would set it up with toys from my room and spend countless hours playing in it until the next herd of pigs were brought in. It was always so sad when I had to take my toys back to my room.
I was about five years old when this particular day happened and my brother was about ten. He was practicing with his bow and arrows and he accidently shot one arrow in the wrong direction. Guess where it landed? Yep! In the pig pen! My dad was only glad that he hadn’t hit a pig. He told my brother he would have to retrieve the arrow himself and barefoot so he wouldn’t ruin his shoes in the muck! I could tell he was afraid. Those pigs were hundreds of pounds to his about seventy. But in he went, without any shoes, into the stinky muck squishing between his toes. I was so afraid for him that I ran to the other side of house crying hard! I couldn’t watch! I just knew those pigs were going to hurt him or worse! I stood there against the wall crying for what seemed like eternity, shaking, thinking I would never see my brother again! All of a sudden, there he appeared right in front of me! He was dirty and stinky but he was smiling at me reassuringly and said, “Don’t cry. I made it! I made it out of the pig pen!” I was in disbelief but so ecstatically happy! I grabbed him and hugged him, muck and all!
God uses examples with pigs in His Word. One of my favorites is “The Prodigal Son.” This son had taken his inheritance and squandered it all away, finding himself so hungry he was longing to eat the leftovers from the pigs, hence “from the pig pen” so to say (Luke 15:11-24). When the son came to his senses, he knew where he had to go, to the one who loved him most and he knew what he had to do. He had to ask for forgiveness. When the father saw his son, he was overcome with joy and embraced him and kissed him and began preparing a celebration because his son was home and alive!
That day when my brother appeared in front of me, I must’ve had the same overwhelming joy that this father did! We definitely had the same joyful and calming, loving embrace! My brother didn’t have to ask for my forgiveness like the Prodigal Son did but he did reassure me that he would never go into the pig pen again or cause any reason to have to.
We all have something, a “pig pen,” in our lives. Or maybe it’s someone we need to seek out and ask forgiveness of. Maybe it’s a situation where we need to hug and forgive them. We need to get out of the muck and get clean, whatever it is. We need to reach out so someone can reach back. Whatever mess you’ve made, big or small, and even if you don’t have a mess there is someone reaching out for you. And He’s ready to give a celebration like the Prodigal Son’s father did and that’s our God! God says of each of us who return to Him the same as the Prodigal Son’s father said, “for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” Let’s let the celebration begin!