How To Love A Warthog
I really had no interest in animals, but I found myself watching a National Geographic series that would be airing each evening for a week. The first segment was the story of a lioness that a researcher had followed for some time. I watched as she gave birth to two cubs, and followed them through their daily search for food. It was as though I really got to “know” the lioness, and when one of her cubs was killed, I was so touched at the emotion of the mother and the remaining cub that it brought tears to my eyes. I had to admit, this was a beautiful animal and after several episodes I was falling in love with her. The next segment was about exotic fish that swim near the bottom of the ocean. The colors of the fish and the flora were stunning, and I was amazed at the thought that only in this century had technology developed to the point where a human could descend to these depths and photograph the beautiful world down there which until now had remained unseen by human eye. I was fascinated. After that, I watched as they focused on beautiful birds in faraway places, so beautiful that they evoke a gasp at first sight. I had never seen any like this before, and was really humbled at the thought of the beauty in the world of which I hadn’t had a clue. But my awe turned to horror one evening when they turned to the warthog. Yes, wart-hog, and it is aptly named! There is no mitigating quality, not a nice word that could be said about the warthog -- it is an UGLY and repulsive animal! It began with the birth of the warthog and I remarked that this is the first time that I’ve seen the young of any species that wasn’t endearing. I was appalled, and disappointed that having won my admiration, National Geographic would now insult my sensitivities by showing us this horribly ugly animal. Having seen the majesty of the lion, the beauty of the fish in the depths, and the glorious plumage of exquisite bird life – why on earth would they spend time filming an animal as atrociously ugly as this! This thought stayed with me though, and the next day as I was out walking I began wondering why God, who could create something as stately as a lion -- WOULD create something as repulsive as a warthog? I mulled this over and over. A few days later I found myself coming to realize that the entire creation spans the complete spectrum of beautiful to ugly, and this by the will of the Designer! We’re creatures of comfort. We love to have our senses pleased. Which of us isn’t spell-bound when happening upon a monarch butterfly? Which of us isn’t delighted when a seagull comes near to take a piece of bread from our hand? I’ve even found myself entertained watching ants build their little houses complete with tunnels. But a WART-HOG??? It was hard to come up with an excuse for it. Certainly I don’t have to tell the Designer that this animal is the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen! In the Bible's "Book of Job," when Job has finished his complaints before God, the Lord answers him with a series of questions in a “who do you think you are?” tone. He begins, “Shall he that contends with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproves God, let him answer!” Then he takes more than two chapters asking Job unanswerable questions such as, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding,” and “By what way is light diffused, or the east wind scattered over the earth?” and “Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high?” And of course the point is that our silly opinions are no match against the discretion of him who hung the stars in space. The more I thought on it, the more I saw this diversity everywhere. It spans the gamut of all that is created. A beautiful sunrise against a terrible hurricane. A rose, against a cactus. A pristine coastline dotted with sailboats against a dry and empty desert. And it is true of us as well. Don’t we perk up when an attractive person speaks, and become bored when an unattractive person walks in? I saw a documentary in which two people were sent out, one fat and not well dressed, and one beautiful without so much as a hair out of place. They both spoke to store clerks, they both applied for the same job, and they both just basically lived one day of ordinary life in a city with their experiences being contrasted. It was eye-opening to say the least, to watch the responses and mannerisms in reaction to the unattractive person and then to the attractive one who was well dressed. Ah, the human condition! We love the beautiful and reject the ugly. But it should not be so, because the One who created the beautiful is the same who created the not-so-beautiful, and if we stopped to consider what we do, we’d have to admit the error of our vanity. I step back and take a look at the people I have loved or admired most in life, and I see that the value in any person I esteemed was in no way related to the physical appearance of the person. In considering successful marriages, I note that among the happiest there is not a preponderance of physical attractiveness, in fact it's often just the opposite. Why then do we respond so quickly to the beautiful and turn away so automatically from the unattractive? It’s human nature. But it isn’t wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to look within, below the surface, and find the beauties that are not obvious, but are of equal importance to the One who created them. In our lowly humanity we must miss so much of value because of our quickness to turn away when the outward appearance is not pleasing to the eye. How much richer would we be if we would only linger a bit and take another look. The first person to discover the pearl was the one who probed deeper than the ordinariness of the shell.