Dear Fellow 1.5ers,
This is a story of redemption. It includes some embellishments because it’s a hunting story, and like all good hunting (and fishing) stories, lying is necessary for it to be true to the genre.
I have a city-friend who married a country-girl. His father-in-law is a well-known hunter in my hometown, and his living room is a museum of proof. There are numerous deer mounts arranged on the wall proving what we already knew – the father-in-law is the real deal. My friend quickly figured out that if he was going to survive in his new, extended family, he would have to become a hunter. So, my buddy went shopping.
He bought a rifle with a scope, a tree stand, a deer call (yes, those exist), and camouflage. Without practicing with his new gun or trying out his new tree stand or familiarizing himself his new deer call, he strategized with his father-in-law about how and where to hunt. They decided it would be best for my buddy to get up early the next morning and be in the woods before sunrise. That’s what real hunters do, and he wanted to be a real hunter, so he agreed to the plan. But, as Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote in “To a Mouse,” “The best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew,” my friend committed the ultimate hunting sin the next morning; he over-slept.
When my buddy awoke, his father-in-law was long gone, and in a wide-eyed panic, my buddy shot out of the house with his brand new gear in tow. He headed to the family hunting property and just outside a food plot (which is land that has been cleared of weeds, etc. then replanted with clover and rye grass, etc. to attract deer), my friend began his ascent up his chosen tree with his never-been-used tree stand. What my pal failed to understand is that when one attaches a tree stand, one must place the stand on the tree on an upward angle, so that when climbing a tree whose trunk will progressively get smaller as you ascend, the stand will level off so that you can sit comfortably for hours. But, if you are unfamiliar with “climbing” deer stands, as was my friend, you attach them level and end up staring at the ground as you get just a few feet up the tree…as did my friend.
So, at twelve feet off the ground and angled downward, my buddy began his hunt. After a few minutes, he took out his deer call and studied it. This particular call had buttons that you would hold down for various sounds – young fawns, female deer in distress, and buck grunts. Ideally, these buttons would be used one at a time in varying circumstances; however, my ignorant friend played his deer call like a flute. He pressed every button, and he blew the call with all his breath. He sometimes pressed two or three buttons at a time making mutant sounds unfamiliar to geographic areas without jungle creatures.
But, angled downward and playing his deer “flute,” my friend heard a mighty crash coming from the nearby woods. The sound materialized in the form of a 12-point buck. The deer stepped onto the edge of the field immediately to the right of my right-handed friend. This meant he would need to turn to take the shot at the deer. Worried that he would frighten the deer, he decided not to turn but rather to take a left-handed shot with his new rifle.
My friend. Over-slept. Angled downward. Playing his deer “flute.” And, shooting left-handed.
How could this possibly go well? It’s still one of the greatest mysteries of life, but my friend dropped that deer in his tracks. The deer is a specimen! Long tines and beautiful. It hangs in his living room, and when you see it, you’ll think my buddy is the real deal. But…
He isn’t. He’s only hunted a handful of times since, and he has yet to kill another deer.
How does one explain reward when the person involved has done everything wrong?
The act of being saved from error (or sins).
My friend – errors upon errors.
The result – the buck of a lifetime.
This story is also the story of every Christian’s salvation.
Sin upon sin. Ignorance. Errors. Rebellion. Mishandling resources and talents. It’s ugly, but…this is who we are. When we come to the Lord for salvation, all we bring with us is our wretchedness. We have nothing to offer. My friend had nothing to offer as a hunter, yet his lacking resulted in victory, and although we are erroneous to our core, our ending, as followers of Christ, will be victory. How can this be?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. This is our story: DEAD in our sins. BUT GOD being rich in mercy SAVED us by His GRACE through FAITH. It is not of our own doing. It is a GIFT from God so that no man can boast. It is all God and nothing of us that brings us eternal salvation in Christ.
There’s no way my friend should have harvested that deer. He did everything wrong. WRONG! He didn’t deserve a deer like that. He certainly can’t boast about the deer because it was certainly not his skill or ability or technique or experience. It was just redemption displayed in the woods in rural Alabama. My buddy was saved from error. My ignorant friend erroneously climbed a tree, made some artificial noises, took an ill-advised shot, and the result was victory for himself. Inexplicable victory.
About 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ climbed a tree on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem, and the result was victory for anyone who would put his or her trust in Him. An innocent man courageously climbed a tree, satisfied the wrath of God, took the weight of the sins of the world on His shoulders, and the result was victory but not just victory for Himself. It was your victory, and it was my victory, and it was our brothers and sisters’ victory as well.
This redemption leaves me speechless. At times it seems inexplicable. But at all times, may we be able to say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Victorious Christian, praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!