By Johnny O. Trail — It is amazing to consider what one can learn from a children’s book. At one time my son, Noah, liked for me to read from his book Groundhog Gets A Say. Since February is when we celebrate Groundhog Day, I took special notice of what Noah’s book had to say about groundhogs. As I read to him when he was younger, I was convinced that Christians need to be more like groundhogs.
Did you know that groundhogs move about seven hundred pounds of rock and dirt a day? No one should ever accuse a groundhog of being lazy (Swallow 2007). Many farmers have complained about the manner in which their barns and hay sheds have been undermined by families of groundhogs. It is amazing to think of such a relatively small animal moving such a large volume of dirt and rock. There are two principles that Christians can glean from this fact.
Like the industrious groundhog, Christians should not be lazy in serving God. Christianity is not a religion of complacency. James says, in James 1.22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We do not always act as if we need to be about our Father’s business, but he expects Christians to be at work in His vineyard.
As mentioned earlier, groundhogs are constantly moving the dirt from their lives. In like fashion, Christians need to keep the filth out of their lives. We are admonished to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain” in 1 Corinthians 15.58. If we are busy working for God, we will not have time for filth to accumulate in our minds.
Moreover, groundhogs do not get dirt in their ears when they move dirt. They have special ear flaps that keep their ears clean (Swallow 2005). By the same token, we need to be careful about what we allow into our ears. Paul tells us that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians 15.33). Christians should never be guilty of using foul or abusive language. Sometimes this writer wishes he had “ear flaps” to keep out all of the filthy communication that he hears around them.
When groundhogs dig their homes, they provide special structures within their design to filter out filth and danger. They dig what is called a “potty” room for, well you know, and a tunnel to collect water that might potentially flood their homes. We, too, need to provide homes that are filtered from filth and danger. With the internet and cable television being pumped into our homes, we need to be careful about what we expose ourselves too. If there are other types of filth in the forms of music or print in our domicile, they need to be removed from where we live. Romans 12.2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Instead of being molded by filthy communication, we need to be transformed into the image of Christ.
The groundhog uses his home for safety from predators. In the same fashion, our homes should be safe havens for our children and spouses. Sadly, abuse is an issue that exists in many homes—Christian and otherwise. Abuse can come in many forms including verbal, physical, and emotional. We need to treat our family as well as we would treat our own body. Ephesians 5. 28-29 says, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”
Furthermore, groundhogs can climb trees, swim (“hoggy-paddle”), or run to escape from danger. Groundhogs can run as fast as the average fourth-grader (Swallow 2005). Since the groundhog has multiple ways of escaping from danger, he is less likely to be taken by a predator. Christians need to equip themselves with the full armor of God to withstand all of the fiery darts of the wicked. We need to use all of the accoutrements of spiritual warfare to defend ourselves with as we face Satan. Ephesians 6.10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
Groundhogs are extremely vigilant against predators. Their eyes and ears are placed high upon their heads so they can see all that surrounds them (Swallow 2005). We need to be vigilant against Satan because our immortal souls depend upon it. 1 Peter 5.8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Groundhogs are also called “whistle pigs.” They are called “whistle pigs,” because they whistle when one senses or sees danger in their habitat (Swallow 2005). In doing so, groundhogs warn and potentially save their entire colony. Just as the groundhog sounds the alarm when danger is in the area, Christians need to be vigilant for their souls and the souls of their brethren. Galatians 6.1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
Finally, people who study groundhogs are called “marmotophiles” or “marmoteers” (Swallow 2005). Hopefully, people who study the Bible are called “Christians.” It is ashamed to consider the amount of time that is wasted in worldly pursuits. What if we spent that wasted time in a positive manner—by studying God’s word. We are admonished to study His word regularly. 2 Timothy 2.15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Well, there’s the hog truth and nothing but the truth. Christians should be more like groundhogs! So let’s “dig in” and practice our Christianity “hole” heartedly.
Swallow, Pamela Curtis (2005). Groundhog Gets A Say. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York.