Monday, March 25, 2013
I took this photo of two porcupines at the zoo in Baltimore. It's not as clear as I'd like, but the glare on the glass enclosure made it difficult to get a better shot. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a picture of a porcupine because they remind me so much of the difficult people who sometimes cross our paths in life.
Everyone comes in contact with a difficult person or two (or three or four....) during their lifetime. In other words, we all have occasion to deal with porcupines. The porcupine has a coat of sharp spines or quills that are released by contact with others. Quills have backward facing barbs that are not only painful entering the skin, but cause additional pain when they are removed.
Have you come into contact with a barbed quill lately?
What do you do when a porcupine crosses your path? What if you frequently come in contact with that porcupine? The Apostle Paul came into contact with numerous porcupines. In Romans 12:18, he says, "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" -- and I might add -- all women and all porcupines.
I know -- that's easier said than done with some people. But, how about a nice suit of armor to protect against those painful barbed quills? Paul tells the Ephesians, "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil [or barbed quills] comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
There are numerous reasons that people behave like porcupines. In most cases, their own inner issues are causing the problem. "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart..." Matthew 15:18. The person who has poison in her heart tends to speak poison with her lips.
David, who we must always remember was pronounced as "a man after God's own heart," Acts 13:22, had his share of porcupine encounters. A particular barbed quill in the flesh for David was King Saul. King Saul might as well have been a porcupine wearing a crown. He chased David, wrongly accused him and even tried to kill him many times. Yet, David never did battle with the king, saying "...may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, 'From evildoers come evil deeds, so my hand will not touch you' " 1 Samuel 24:12-13.
When you get right down to it, dealing with the porcupines of this world is just one more test for the Christian. It's a way for God to strengthen our faith in Him and also to show forth our stand in God as a witness to His glory. And who knows but what our continued kindness toward a porcupine might help that person morph into a kinder creature herself.
Here are two verses to help encourage you in your next struggle with a porcupine who crosses your path: "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord..." Hebrews 12:14 - and - "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" Matthew 5:9.