Up a tree with God, Part 2

The Weekly Vista - - Religion - RON WOOD Ron Wood is a writer and min­is­ter. Contact him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace. org. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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.

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