Life and the 3 Little Pigs

I am an extremely young grandpa. I’m still able to outrun and outjump the grandkids. It helps, that they are five and under. When they’re worn out from trying to catch me, they say, “Read to me.” Sweeter words were seldom spoken. My second grandchild, Eowyn, snuggles up on my lap and listens, wide-eyed as three little oinkers set out to seek their fortune. She loves pigs. Loves it when the first little porker buys a load of straw. Loves it when the sweet little swine builds a house of straw then goes indoors to ham it up.

She cringes when the big bad wolf knocks. “Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” he growls. “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin chin,” snorts the bothered little boar. Then comes huffing and puffing. The house falls in, and the wolf eats the first little gourmand. Eowyn whips her head around, startled, her eyes like watermelons. “GRANDPA!” she says. Then she smiles and laughs. It’s something we will re-enact with each successive reading.

You know the rest of the story. The second sow fares no better. He purchases sticks, constructs a flimsy house, and becomes bacon. But the third piggy is no fool. He constructs a house of bricks, something wolf breath cannot whither. In a huff, he slides down the chimney and gets himself into hot water.

Some current versions have the first and second pigs escaping to their wise brother’s house uneaten. One even turns the wolf into a kind, likable animal, and in the end, they all become friends. If only life were like that. But sometimes fairy tales teach us that evil exists, that we have an enemy, that their bad planning brings consequences, that I must be careful what I build upon.

You needn’t live long to see the result of building with crummy materials on a flimsy foundation. We construct our lives on what we think will gratify and give meaning and purpose. Maybe it’s good stuff: a spouse, a career, family, comfort, possessions, money, morality or a noble cause. But people disappoint, children fail, careers and cash are huffed, puffed, and blown away. Building our lives solely on relationships puts undue pressure on them. Living for a career breeds workaholism. Devoting our lives to pleasure leads to addiction. Focus solely on a noble cause and we demonize our adversaries. But build our life on Jesus of Nazareth and he alone will fulfill us. Fail him and he will forgive us forever. The rains will come, the winds will howl—as will a wolf or two—but center our lives on the Rock of Ages, and we can face anything. When we reach the bottom, make sure it’s Rock bottom. And you’ll be nobody’s bacon.

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