The dogs were barking like crazy, all facing the same direction. A buzzard or a goose. That was the crazy thought that came to me. After fifteen minutes of non-stop barking, I went to see. No buzzard. No goose.
They were barking at my favorite deer. He was a four-point buck who roamed through my yard like it was his home. I guess it was. Every evening, he and the three little does that traveled with him toured my backyard. He sometimes ate with my horses. Occasionally, he came alone, just to say hi.
I was attached to this little deer.
Yesterday, he was at the edge of the water. It looked as if he were caught in the mud and struggling to get out. Then, I got closer.
His hind legs were both broken at the knee. Not in the way of the blunt force trauma of a car. This was a gunshot wound. He'd been "kneecapped" in such a way that the lower portion of both his legs was half-attached and dangling behind him like a train. He was trying to walk on the bloody stumps of fractured femurs.
I wasn't sure my little 22 rifle would do the job, so I called my friend, The Preacher. I'm sure his wife had other plans for their Saturday, but he and his son dropped everything, grabbed a gun, and headed my way. They spent hours looking for my deer.
My neighbor came over, too. He was as hurt as I by the meaningless injury to "our" deer.
"I'm going up the side road and see if any hunters are hanging out, looking for the deer they shot. You want to go?'
Anger blazed for a brief moment and I opened the door. "Yes, I do, but we better not find them."
Before I climbed inside, however, my good sense (and the conviction of the Holy Spirit) overwhelmed me. I closed the door. "No. I'm not sure I can act like Jesus right now if I find whoever shot my deer. I better stay here."
"Well, I'm going."
"If you can't act like Jesus, you better stay here, too."
"I don't know if I can or I can't, but I'm going."
It was a long time before he returned. I was glad he didn't find the hunters and, in a way, he was, too.
I've grieved for the suffering of the poor wounded deer and for our inability to find him and end his misery, but I haven't wasted time being angry at the ones who shot him. Incredulous, yes. Fury? No. I've chosen to view this as a poor shot by an excited hunter who tried to find his victim and was as unsuccessful as we were.
I'm grateful I didn't go hunting for hunters, too. The problem wouldn't have been with the hunting It would've been with the finding.
The wounded deer had a high priority for me, but my witness for Jesus is a higher priority. No matter the emotion of the moment, it's important that I make every effort to demonstrate Christ to those around me in a way that shows the grace and mercy of God. What good would it have done to find the hunter and drive them away from Jesus by my behavior? None at all.
Even in the most trying times, as disciples of Christ, we must act like Him. When we don't want to. When we don't feel like it. When we feel justified in doing and saying what we want.
We are bondservants, bound to a Master who has given us a higher calling. We are His, so let's be sure those who see us can know, by our words and our behavior, that He is ours, as well.
"Act as free men, but do not use your freedom as a covering for evil,
but use it as bondslaves of God."
1 Peter 2:16 nasb
In case you missed one of this week's posts, here are the links: The Truth That Matters Most: My Redeemer Lives, Truth That Matters: God Sees, The Importance of Light, A Little Good News: Working Together, Things I've Learned: There is a God and I'm Not It, Cutting Down a Tree and Praying for Miracles, and The Tree That Preached a Sermon.
#woundeddeer #holdyourtongue #bondslave #JesusChrist