Heffalumps Help No One

By: Rev. Jeremiah Thomas, pastor of Centennial ARP Church, Columbia, SC

On July 9, 2018, I wrote an article to Centennial ARP Church’s congregation about how quickly our good intentions can lead us down into a cycle of (faulty) fear and frustration. Consider it now. In light of the season in which we are living, we should never make the things of this world into Heffalumps!  

Heffalumps Help No One (And Eat Your Honey, Too)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Are you familiar with Winnie the Pooh? I am. In fact, aside from God’s Word and an anthology of stories following the life of a young girl named Pinkalicious (you read that right), the many stories of Winnie The Pooh are the books I read the most. I have come to appreciate good children’s stories (words, emphases, and illustrations), and so as I have begun (via repetition) to memorize many Winnie stories. Now, before we go on, for any who don’t know yet, the readings of these books (over and over and over and over!) have come at the request of my two-year-old daughter, Mary Emmaline. And recently, she has fallen into a deep love with a Pooh story about a Heffalump.

Surely y’all know what a Heffalump is, right? You know, don’t you? Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of one.

The answer should be no, because Heffalumps are a made-up creature of the little boy Christopher Robins’ imagination. As the story goes, though, that bear of little brain, Pooh, and his fearful friend Piglet did not have the courage or wisdom to say they didn’t know what a Heffalump was. In fact, without asking Christopher Robin about the details of this fanciful creature, they set off to a little pine tree grove, articulated a well-constructed and thought out plan (for a bear and a pig at least), and sought to catch a Heffalump. To make a long story short, Pooh Bear got his head stuck in a honey jar, piglet was intensely frightened by the Heffalump whose head happened to be stuck in a honey jar, and Christopher Robin laughed and laughed! It’s a good story.

But it’s not a good story when we live our lives like Pooh and Piglet did with the Heffalump. There are moments in life when we seek to act knowledgeable on matters that we have no clue about. There are moments when our peers or the crowd sway us to take up a position or side that we haven’t done any research on. Be it on cultural, political, or spiritual issues, this happens often! Maybe you can think of one from your own life. This is why the story is so good. It mirrors reality in a powerful way. But here’s the thing: Heffalumps help no one. All they do is get your head stuck in a jar and give you a fright. God has given us knowledge by his Holy Spirit, that we might confess Jesus Christ and be saved. Moreover, God has given us his Holy Spirit that we might continue in our lives in a state of wisdom, which starts with God. And all of this can be found in God’s Word (the Bible).

Like sheep in his mind, Winnie The Pooh lay in his bed and counted over five hundred Heffalumps the night they were hoping to catch one. He couldn’t fall asleep because he had used the last of his honey for the trap. The brave bear went out into the night with tummy rumbling and came to the Heffalump trap. A.A. Milne described the scene wonderfully. “In the half-light the Pine Trees looked cold and lonely, and the Very Deep Pit seemed deeper than it was, and Pooh’s jar of honey at the bottom was something mysterious, a shape and no more. But as he got nearer to it his nose told him that it was indeed honey” (from A.A. Milne’s Piglet Meets A Heffalump). There was nothing there but the hole he had dug and the honey he had placed. What was scary at first turns out to be fictional.

Heffalumps don’t exist, but if we act like they do, the imaginary built up monsters of the mind certainly take our time, energy, thoughts, emotions, and even resources. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5). Pray diligently to a God who answers. Diligently seek after the Lord in the Word he has provided. And recognize that Heffalumps help no one in real life.

 

P.S.-Mary Emmaline (now 5yo) is “through” with Pinkalicious. She is now reading to her littlest brother, Carwynn (1yo). Isaac (now 3yo) is so obsessed with Star Wars stories that, indeed, “the force is with me” in reciting them by memory.

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