Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | January 20, 2009


Galatians 5:15, “Ye B.ite A.nd D.evour one another…”

When things got to be too much–when he needed to clear his mind–Pastor Hal liked to take a drive through the country.

On one such therapeutic excursion, he chose a road less travelled–really less travelled. In fact, it didn’t look like anyone had used the road in a long time.

It was adventuresome to be in unknown territory, on a strange road, and all alone. AND, he was enjoying the beautiful scenery. The late afternoon sun was shining brightly. There was a babbling blue brook flowing along the left side of the road. There was a steep green meadow filled with yellow flowers to the right side of the road. The birds were singing. God was in His Holy Temple. All was at peace. Everything was just…swell.

The stress and tensions just started to melt away; yet, not entirely, because, as any pastor knows, just when things start to seem so good–it all falls apart. So, you are always on edge. There is no rest from the ministry. One must learn to rest in the ministry because sooner or later every lovely country road leads back to an ugly city.

Although, somehow today did seem to be so different, as he approached a bend in the road–a sharp turn to the right–he was suddenly met by a speeding car that closed in on his car. At the last possible moment it swerved and missed him. As the car went past him, the driver, an old woman, scrunched up her wrinkled face and from a deep tobacco colored cavern where her mouth ought to be she yelled–at the top of her lungs–“ROAD…HOG!”

Roadhog?…Roadhog! That was it! Pastor Hal lost his sanctification. He craned his neck out the window, shook his fist at the old lady’s car, and yelled, “OH YEAH! YOU OLD COW!”

When he turned back to the front, there was a large hog standing in the middle of the road. He hit it broadside. The hog’s terrified squeal ended when it landed five feet down the road with a pathetic, “THUD-oink!” The hog was killed instantly.

Hal’s car came crashing to a dead stop. He was thrown into the windshield and was knocked unconscious. His new car was totalled.

No one came along to help. That’s what’s bad about the road less travelled. Hal was unconscious for almost a half of an hour. It could be days before anyone would travel this road again. When he finally came to, he saw a pack of wolves devouring the carcass of the hog.

Oh, not all of them were eating. Some had evidently pigged out already and were lying in the bright sun–waiting to feed some more. They were lying on their backs with their limp legs folded down against their bellies. Awkward as this was–it was still easier for them than trying to lie on such a full stomach. With all due respect to the deceased hog, the wolves looked like Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. The other wolves snapped, snipped and smacked their happy way through the gargantuan porker.

Now, what I am about to tell you is hard to believe; however, as hard as it might be to allow that it could be true, please try to imagine it as true: when Hal came to, he thought he was a wolf!

How could that happen? Well, do you know how newly hatched birds, like Canadian Geese and others, bond to the first creature that they see after hatching–sometimes bonding to a dog, cat, cow or a farmer. You’ve heard about the “Ugly Duckling”. Haven’t you?

Well, Pastor Hal was not ugly and he only walked like a duck. Yet, he “hatched” out of that short coma with a blank mind–due to amnesia. He didn’t know who or what he was! When Hal saw those wolves–he just flat out bonded to them. He just figured he was one of them. You know a person can think they are what they hang around with–and be fooled. Hal was! Hal thought he was a wolf.

Really! The only question that came to his mind was, “Hey! What am I doing in this car? Look at all that good food!” He jumped out on all fours and joined in the meal like any other wolf would do.

Hal normally didn’t eat pork for fear of tapeworms. See! That’s what happens when you run with a pack. Thinking yourself to be a wolf and running with the wolves might change your menu and make you less concerned about such maladies. Some who run with the pack, even eat snails, fish eggs–and raw fish! From which, some have died–or wish they had! Thinking you are something that you are not can lead to your doing things that you would not normally do.

A wolf will eat anything–including other wolves–if he gets hungry enough. Unbeknownst to Hal, the other wolves would have eaten him–if they were not so full of pork. Wolves turn on each other; therefore, be careful when running with a pack of wolves..

The sun was setting when the pack left the makeshift roadside cafe. They ran up across the meadow–stopping only to smell the occasional droppings and markings on the trees and flowers–yapping and barking in ecstasy. Even Hal stopped and tried to mark a tree or two along the way–the other wolves were doing it! When you’re a wolf–you must do as wolves do!

However, he didn’t realize that he was still wearing pants. In fact, he no longer knew what pants were. He had a beautiful fur coat like the rest of them–in his mind.

He looked so foolish. Yet, in his mind, he felt so wolfish. In his mind he was marking the trees and territory with the best of them.

If there was a mirror out there and if he would have looked into it, then he would have known that he was not a wolf. However, he didn’t look at himself–it wasn’t that he couldn’t look at himself. It was just that all he was looking at was the other in the pack. Boy! They looked so good. It made him proud to be associated with such a…a…pack of wolves.

The pack ran to the top of a hill and sat on their haunches facing the east. And, as the summer moon rose over the horizon, he howled at the top of his lungs with the rest of the pack in greeting the moon’s great pale green face. He didn’t know what he was doing by howling like that–he was just doing what all the other wolves were doing. It just seemed right–really right! However, as he howled–at the top of his lungs–he kept glancing out of the corner of his eye to make sure that he was acting like he should. You are never really ever totally comfortable with yourself when you’re running with a pack. You want the other wolves to accept you. In reality, the others could care less about you. You’d do better if you’d do the same.

Be that as it may, Hal never knew such joy–such comradery–such “aliveness”! He knew what he was–a wolf. His stomach was full. He was surrounded by a wolf pack. He looked like a wolf. He acted like a wolf. He ate like a wolf. He howled like a wolf. He even smelled like a wolf. He was no longer just plain old Hal–he was a member of a pack of wolves. He was somebody!

He even had fleas like a wolf. That’s an occupational danger of running with a pack of wolves. If you lie down with wolves, you get up with the fleas–and other pests to torment you.

The air was fresh. The great moon face watched down on him as he fell asleep. He was glad to be alive and to be a wolf. He never slept so well–or ever would again.

They were all awake before sunrise. A few at a time, the wolves all went out to relieve themselves–Hal went as well.As Hal squatted in the field, he didn’t know it but he was the topic of the conversation between Snarl, pack leader, and his number one wolf, Fang. In the feeding frenzy and the howlingly good fellowship of the night before, Hal had been able to blend in–kind of. However, today was another day. When you run with the wolves, there always comes the dawning of a day of reckoning. And, in the bright morning light, it was obvious that Hal was no wolf!

“Hey, Fang, who OR what is that?”, Snarl demanded.

Fang looking in Hal’s direction said, “I don’t know. He came out of nowhere and ate on the hog with us. He howled at the moon with us and slept with the pack last night. I thought you knew who he was.”

“No. But, I am going to find out right now!”, Snarl growled.

Snarl went over to check out Hal’s pedigree. Well, one sniff was all it took for Snarl to know that the stranger was not welcome–any closer than three miles. A wolf’s nose is sensitive that way. Mark my words–you make one mess–and the other wolve will disown you!

Snarl snapped a snippet out of Hal’s pants and leg, as if to say in wolf language, “Unless you want worse–get out of here!” Hal thought he was playing. He thought it was a game of tag. (When you run with wolves it is hard to tell when they’re just playing or are serious–deadly serious).

Hal took off running down the hill. He was unintentionally running toward where his car was–and the whole pack took out after him with Snarl in the lead.

Hal was running as hard as he could. He was going faster and faster. His tongue hung out of his mouth. He was breathing so hard that he wheezed and chugged like a locomotive. Every now and then he looked with a wild eyed glance to see if the guys were still chasing him. Unbeknownst to him, they had long since cut off the chase–his pedigree was too much–running and sweating only made it worse from behind.

When Hal could no longer take the suspense, he slowed just enough to look completely behind him. His shock at learning that the guys had left the chase came to an abrupt end as he crashed headlong into a great oak tree. He was knocked unconscious. Well, that was where the searchers found him.

You guessed it! The second blow to the head returned him to just being Hal. He never remembered running with the wolves. He could never explain how he got up near the tree, how he got blood on his shirt when he had no cuts, or how, weeks later, he got trichinosis–that was what puzzled him the most. Despite all that he forgot, Hal never could look at a full moon without having a strange desire to howl at the top of his lungs.

Don’ t you forget what happened to Hal. Running with wolves will change you–whether you are aware of it or not. SO, DON’T RUN WITH THEM. You’ve got enough problems already.

-Pastor Hagedorn

(c) 1997


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