One PROUD Groundhog and the Fragility of Life

This happened to me last week and is a different kind of faith story . . .

Sitting in my van under the shade of the tree, I was taking a lunch break after working on my sailboat all morning.  A robin landed on the cement base of a lamppost near the front of my van and stared at me through the van window.  She appeared to be assessing me as to whether or not I was a threat.  I pointed at the dollar burger with extra onion I was eating, trying to assure her that the only thing I was interested in eating was my burger.   She must have understood as she turned her attention to other things in the area and only occasionally glanced back at me.

There was a country road right beside me that passed into the little boating town where I was staying.  Munching on my burger, I watched the butterflies and birds flit and fly by and a couple of groundhogs on the other side of the country road grazing in the green grass.  Apparently, one groundhog decided the other had grazed its way into his territory and started chasing the careless grazer.  They chased each other back and forth for a bit . . . entertainment for me as I watched these brown fur-balls running at high speed through the green grass.

Suddenly, one jumps on top of the other one, and from where I was sitting, it looked like they were fist fighting.  The groundhog on top was hammering away on the groundhog on the bottom.  Soon, the one on the bottom must have yelled “uncle” and went tearing across the road in my direction.  The winner stood by the side of the road with his forepaws spread wide, head erect, chest thrust out, and baring his two, large dagger-like front teeth!  This is hard to explain, but after beating the crap out of the other groundhog, he looked PROUD!!  He was like struttin’ his stuff!  He was clearly sending a message to the other guy or any other groundhogs that happened to be watching saying, “I’m a bad dude!  Anybody messes with me, and he’s gonna be mush!  So stay outta my grazin’ grass!!”

Then, while savoring his taste of victory as he reveled in the “sweetness” of his conquest, I saw him jump about a foot into the air, tumble sideways a few times, and then get spit out by the back tire of the bright red truck that had just run over him.  There he lay on his back with his forepaws sticking up, his head lying straight back, and his short little brown furry legs spread flat on the ground.  No breathing, no twitching, no nothing–he was gone.  I watched as a few more cars drove by, running over his little legs.  Feeling bad for the little guy, I walked across the road and pushed him into the grass with my foot.  Looking down at him, there he was . . . the proud triumphant victor and in an instant . . . a dead nobody.

Walking back to the van, I thought about the Scripture, “Pride goes before a fall” and how fragile life can be.  You can be the smartest and brightest–bump your head wrong, and your brains are gone; you can be the strongest and toughest–a serious illness strikes, and those strong muscles waste away.  Life is fragile.  Just a few days ago, one of my wife’s students was driving to meet her husband at work.  On the way, she saw a car accident surrounded my emergency vehicles and police officers, not knowing it was her husband of three years dead at the wheel.  Life is so very fragile, and there are no guarantees about anything in life . . . except Jesus and His promise never to leave us or forsake us.

First Step is Faith:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:16  (NIV)

Second Step is the Promise:  “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” –Jesus    Heb 13:5  (NKJV)

Copyright © 2010 by William D. (Nick) Nichols

PS: Our sympathies and prayers go out to my wife’s student and the loss of her beloved husband.

One Comment

  • Gunga says:

    Groundhogs are among the funniest and most aptly-named creatures on the planet, IMHO. …also, I’ve been assured by semi-reliable sources that they taste “just like” pork ribs if you bake them and liberally apply barbecue sauce. Testing that hypothesis might require more than faith.

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