Monday, January 2, 2012

Feeding the Hyena...

Recently, I made a trip to Ethiopia and during the trip, we visited an old city where there is an ancient tradition of feeding the hyenas. Hyenas are huge, ugly, smelly creatures with powerful shoulders and jaws. They also have small hindquarters. They are scavengers by nature and in this case, live in the mountains surrounding the city we visited.

They come to the city at night to scavenge for food. Years ago, in order to appease the hyenas so they would not attack and drag off their children and elderly, the townspeople began to feed the hyenas every night about dusk time. This worked so well that it continues until today. If you go to this city (which we did), you can go in the evening and help feed the hyenas (which we did as well).

You actually kneel down on a mat, hold out a piece of raw meat on a stick and the hyenas come up (rather aggressively) and snatch the meat from you. The guide will even hold a piece of raw meat over your head so that the hyenas will climb up your back in order to reach the meat. This is a weird feeling to say the least.

As I fed the hyenas (I had to, some single ladies did it before me and I couldn't turn down the challenge), I observed some potential problems with the process. For one, it is dangerous for the one feeding the hyena. They are wild animals. They are big and powerful. They could turn on those feeding them at any time. Secondly, and even more troubling, is that once you start feeding the hyenas, you have to keep feeding them. How do you stop? What if they came to the town at evening and there was no food? Third, and again disturbing, the more you fed them, the more they came and the more that they brought their friends. We started feeding with a couple of hyenas surrounding us. By the time we finished, we had a whole herd!

As I start the new year, I wonder what kind of "hyenas" I have in my life. What are the things that I have unnecessarily fed over the last year that I would do much better with by not feeding at all? Are there issues of pride, lust, character flaws, etc., that would be much better off if I starved them or completely removed them from my life?

I pray that God shows me my "hyenas" in this new year and that He also gives me the courage and grace to quit feeding them.

Happy New Year!

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