“. . .but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
Proverbs 1:33 (NIV)
The Hodag, the unrelenting legend of an illusive beast that prowls the Northwoods. A hideous, hairy animal it is. Seven feet long, three feet high. Ferocious. Dangerous. Grumpy. Its short, strong legs finish in claws, raw and needle sharp. A dozen gleaming, white horns line its backbone. Wicked-looking tusks hang menacingly from its vise-like jaws. With spikes and tusks, the Hodag rubs bark off maples and covers itself with sap. Sticky then, it rolls in fallen leaves making a winsome disguise.
“Beware of that pile of leaves in the woods,” says the storyteller. He points into the darkness past his shoulder. “It might be the Hodag waiting for—YOU!”
We scream. He pours water on the campfire then. Flames sizzle. The orange glow surrounding his face vanishes in a shroud of steam. Reluctantly, we girls retreat to our tents. Brave scouts no more. We slip into sleeping bags, zip them tight, and lay awake worrying about the Hodag. We don’t know when or if it will come, or worse what might happen if it does. We only know that it IS. Somewhere out there the Hodag lurks, and it fills our souls with fear.
Are you afraid of the Hodag? Most of us are. It’s that “something out there,” that something that could harm us, the unknown. For some, the Hodag is fear of loss—of a loved one, our job, our health. For others, it’s a persistent unnamed fear, or fear of fear itself. A Hodag fear can lead to a deathbed confession like this one:
“I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life—most of which never happened!”
There’s only one weapon that can destroy Hodag fear. Faith. Faith first in God’s perfect plan and protection. Faith then in ourselves that we possess enough strength to face our fear with faith.
Think about David in 1 Samuel 17. A gangly teenager with a slingshot and no cladding, he faced Goliath, a fearsome, mocking bully, nine feet tall. The giant, dressed in full armor, harassed and cursed him, but David answered, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty. . .” (verse 45) Then David struck Goliath. The Hodag fell dead. Faith conquered fear.
In Psalm 112:7-8, David writes about people who are faithful and obedient to God. He says, “They aren’t afraid when bad news comes. They stand firm because they trust in the Lord. Their hearts are secure. They aren’t afraid. In the end they will see their enemies destroyed.”
In times of trouble believers can find peace knowing that God will deliver them. No matter what the circumstances He is God, our protector, the One who knows the unknown. He is the God who does not change. He is Faith in the face of fear, the Slayer of the Hodag.
Curious about the Wisconsin Hodag legend?
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