No way did I plan to come home from the Litchfield Fair with a pig. Sure, when our family moved to the rural Maine countryside, Dana, and I had talked about the benefits of raising a couple of pigs. Humanely raised meat. Fertilizer for our garden. Less dependence on the grocery store.

Only, we don’t eat much pork. And there was the whole process of pig farming, which we knew nothing about. There didn’t seem to be much risk, however, in entering our youngest son, Ezra, in the pig scramble at the local fair. While my husband and Ezra sat in the bleachers of the exhibition barn, waiting to see which children’s names would be drawn to participate, I wandered off with our 8-year-old to hear the results of a free bike raffle.

When we returned (without having won a bike), Dana and Ezra were gone. We waited, headed for the bathrooms and waited some more before finally having them paged. Seconds later, there came Dana with Ezra grinning at his side.

“Where did you go?” I threw up my hands.

“Taking care of our pig,” Dana said.

“Our PIG?”

Sure enough, Ezra’s name had been called and he’d managed to sneak up on a 20-lb. pink piglet, which had been presented to Dana in a gunny sack. Before deciding to keep it, I made our boys look me straight in the eye. “You understand that if we take this pig home, we are going to raise it for six months, and then we will butcher and eat it?”

“Bacon!” said Ezra.

And just like that, we became pig farmers. After driving home, we stashed our pig in a large wooden crate filled with wood shavings and a bowl of water while we figured out what to do. Ten minutes later, we looked out the window to see our little piggy happily rooting around the driveway!

After another pig scramble, Dana managed to catch the pig and spent the next hour building a mesh lid for the crate while I read everything I could on caring for pigs. Crazy? Yes! Yet, I think it’s often the only way to do things: jumping in whole hog. Sure, much of life calls for planning, preparation and prudence. But certain events – like faith – must be experienced to be understood.

“God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom,” the apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 1:21 (NLT). Just as I’ll never know what it takes to raise a pig by debating whether to raise one, human intellect alone is insufficient to grasp the full nature of God, .

For better or worse, in six months our family’s understanding of what it takes to rear pigs will be immeasurably greater based on our experience. Maybe we’ll decide pig farming isn’t for us. But by giving it a try, we’ll have a better understanding of what we are saying no to. So when it comes to something as significant as faith, be sure to experience what you are saying no to before saying no to God.

Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Christmas Cradle, the first book in her Lantern Hill Farm picture-book series, is available now through your local bookstore or by clicking the attached link.