Up a tree with God, Part 2
Being extra-careful with my weapon this time, I used my quarter-inch rope to secure my shotgun. Then I shinnied up the tree using the climbing stand and cautiously seated myself. Using the rope, I pulled my shotgun up and laid it across my lap. I sighed and relaxed. I’d made it!
The stillness of the woods was magical. Everything was so quiet, you could almost hear the leaves fall as they turned loose from high branches and slipped softly to earth through the motionless air.
I hoped I would see a deer. Maybe get a buck using the shotgun my dad had used to hunt deer in the Ocala National Forest. I was happy in the woods. I’m a country boy at heart. I felt at home.
I looked down at my shotgun laying across my lap and saw the safety was still on. I knew it would make a metallic snick when I clicked it off. I didn’t want any noise if a deer approached, so I decided to take care of that. As quietly as I could, I pushed down slowly on the safety button with one finger.
BAM! When I pressed the button, my shotgun went off like a cannon. It shocked me! Rocketing horizontally through the air, the gun jetted out of my lap and flew about six feet away then landed on the ground 10 feet down, the barrel pointed toward me, the thin rope still tied inside the trigger guard where I’d left it. Unnoticed, the rope had been tugging on the trigger.
I had two instant reactions. The first was fear. The unexpected blast had scared me so badly that I very nearly fell out of the tree. My heart was racing.
The second was anger. I was angry at myself, at the situation, at the embarrassment of it all. I felt so stupid. That moment was when I heard the Lord’s voice speak to me out of the echoing silence.
“You’ve been angry a lot lately, haven’t you?,” the Lord said. Hearing my Master’s voice, I immediately agreed, “Yes, Lord, I have.” Now was not the time to make excuses.
As though I could see the Lord’s face, He turned and was looking toward Delton, waiting high up in his tree off in the distance. I knew Delton was a believer in Jesus but he was not very expressive about his faith. He was faithful to church and sat beside his wife, but rarely spoke.
The Lord said, “You are just as uncomfortable in the woods as Delton is in the church.” I was stunned, speechless.
I sat motionless for a long while, thinking about this realization. Then I cautiously pulled up on the rope. The barrel tilted down as I lifted my shotgun up. I put the safety on and laid it across my lap. I was done with hunting. My blast had scared away any skittish deer but I was no longer interested in hunting. Something far more important had happened.
Twenty years have passed. I’m older and wiser. I don’t climb trees anymore and I haven’t taken time to hunt deer since that day with Delton, who recently passed away. But I recall with sober clarity what the Lord showed me while I was up a tree in a cypress swamp in Florida, surrounded by a million acres of trees.
Now I know the woods are filled with men like Delton who believe in God, many of whom love Jesus, but not comfortable with the church the way we’ve made it.