There is a story about an Arkansas pig farmer told by Ron Dunn, the international Bible teacher and pastor of a previous generation whose message continues through his books and recently released biography.
During the days of Ron’s boyhood, he and his family lived in Arkansas, where “hog calling” is an art form. You may have heard about the hog calling competitions where both men and women belt out at the top of their lungs, “Woo pig! Sooooooie! Woooooooo pig!”
Now that the University of Arkansas (UA) is part of the same football conference as the University of Missouri, the obnoxious sound of “Wooo pig! Sooooooie! Woooooo pig!” will be heard from miles around central Missouri, wherever the UA fans show up with their bright red plastic hats in the shape of a razorback.
For the less enlightened, razorbacks are wild feral hogs that weigh about 300 pounds and have sharp teeth. They are the stuff wild tales and nightmares are made of. They eat anything and cause all kinds of damage to farms. However, they are the beloved mascot for our neighbors to the south and they created the hog-calling sport – or should I say hog-calling cult.
Ron tells about one of the champion hog callers losing his voice so that he couldn’t call the hogs at feeding time. To remedy the situation, he trained the hogs to respond to the sound he made striking a tree with a stick. He would rapidly strike a tree and the hogs would jump out of the mud holes, run with ears flapping toward the feeding trough, and gobble down the feed.
One day the hog caller went out to tend to his hogs only to discover a horrible sight. The hogs were running as fast as they could from one tree to another. Some of the hogs were overcome with exhaustion and were lying on the ground between the trees.
Then the hog caller heard his problem. A family of woodpeckers had stationed themselves on different trees, and every time they would strike the wood with their rapid pecking the hogs thought it was dinnertime. They wore themselves out running between the trees attempting to gain the reward of food that was never delivered.
Ron wrote, “I have doubts about the accuracy of that story but none about the truth it illustrates. Many Christians behave like those unfortunate creatures, confused and frustrated, exhausting themselves scurrying from one voice to another, searching for food that isn’t there. And, frankly, some of the voices are like those woodpeckers, pecking on hollow logs” (Will God Heal Me? page 82).
The context for Dunn’s book is the desperate issue of sickness, suffering and healing. However, his analogy is applicable to many life circumstances. There are plenty of voices proclaiming, “Here is the truth,” or better stated, “Here is our version of the truth.”
How does a person sort through the counterfeits and discover the truth? As Biblicists, our first question is always, “What does God say?” For the follower of Christ, every decision or struggle in life that demands an answer begins with what God has said.
The foundation of our decision-making, the basis of truth that we believe is not our experiences, not someone else’s thinking, not how someone feels about an issue. What matters is God’s opinion, and He has revealed His perspective on everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4).
This is the number one rule of life for everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. It doesn’t matter if they live in Missouri or Arkansas or Afghanistan or Moldavia. It doesn’t matter if they are hog callers, opera singers, educators, biophysicists or stay-at-home moms. If you want to find genuine answers to life’s difficult issues, start with God’s precious word and stay true to what God says.
For more information on Ron Dunn read Ron Dunn: His Life and Mission by Ron Owens, Faith Crisis by Ron Dunn, and Will God Heal Me? by Ron Dunn. Each of these excellent books is a 2013 publication of B&H Publishers, Nashville.