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Judges: Testing God

Then Gideon said to God, ?If You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken, behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken.? And it was so. When he arose early the next morning and squeezed the fleece, he drained the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water.      -- Judges 6:36-38

On a hot September afternoon in 2010, I sat high in a tree in an aluminum climbing stand.  Cicadas buzzed loudly in the woods behind me, and the constant whine of mosquitoes was quickly pushing me to the end of my patience.  A drop of sweat rolled down the side of my face and splashed onto the limb of the bow that lay in my lap.

In front of me, a stick snapped in the woods and the little flock of doves that was milling around in the tiny clearing scattered, their wings whistling as they beat the air trying to gain altitude.  Soon another stick cracked, and then I heard the unmistakable crunch of leaves as a deer approached the clearing.

Slowly and cautiously I stood up in the stand, feeling the pull of the safety harness as it tightened around me.  I raised my bow into an upright position, being careful not to let the nocked arrow bang against the rails of the stand or the riser of the bow.  The cicadas ceased their buzzing, and a hot wind swirled around me.

Through an opening in the thick brush that surrounded the little clearing, I saw a hint of brown; the body of the deer.  Just a few more steps, I thought.  Come on deer, come get some acorns. 

With a loud snort that almost made me fall out of the stand, the deer turned and vanished back the way it had come.  The sound of its footfalls thudded against the hard earth, and I knew that it was gone for good.  And I knew that any other deer in the area had probably heard it leave.

Cursing silently, I settled back down into the stand and rested the back of my head against the tree.  Immediately, I was regretful for my response.  God, I prayed. The early part of this season has been such a struggle.  It?s hotter than heck out here, and the mosquitoes are terrible, and in five trips afield I haven?t seen a single deer.  Last year was such a great year, and now this.  Have I angered you in some way?

Around me, the birds slowly started moving again, and the cicadas resumed their loud buzzing.  A squirrel darted into the clearing, grabbed an acorn from the base of a white oak tree, and then ran back into the woods.  There was no answer from heaven, only the shriek of a fighter plane as it crossed the sky above me as it headed back to Shaw Air Force base from wherever mission it had been on.

I tried again.  God, if you truly love me will you send me a deer right now?  It doesn?t have to be a monster.  Just a shootable buck; one that fits in with our club rules.  Wasn?t there some verse in the Bible about some old Israelite who had tested God by asking Him to wet a sheepskin, but not the ground around it, if he was going to succeed in battle?  If that was the case, would God not give me a similar sign? 

As the day moved on, the sun began to set in the western sky, and still no deer appeared.  I heard no further movement in the woods, and when the last light faded I climbed down from my tree and hiked back to my truck, tired and dejected.  I made the long drive down the logging road back to our sign-in board where the other hunters had gathered to talk about what they had seen.

Many of them had seen groups of does, and one fellow got a good look at what he said was a really nice buck from a distance.  Why them, I wondered, and not me?  And this time I heard that still small voice in the depths of my mind.  Your time will come, the voice said, and that was all.  I believed those words, but still felt short-changed on the way the hunting season was going.  The previous three or four seasons had gone so well that I just knew that this was going to be another good year.

As I drove home that night, I asked myself how many other times in the past have I sat for hours in a deer stand and asked God to send me a deer.  How many prayers have I lifted up to Him saying, ?Could I have that one big buck today; the one that I?ll remember for the rest of my life??  And how many times have I asked Him to give me a sign that this would be the year that I got my biggest deer ever?

What causes us to seek for reassurance from God about the things in our life?   We are told over and over that we should trust Him, and yet these signs that we ask for show a lack of trust in Him.  Do we not believe that His heart for us is truly good?  Or do we think that He is holding back on us in some way?  Upon careful thought, I really think that this is what we believe, and why we don?t trust Him the way we should.

Thought Questions

In what ways have you tried to test God?  Have you tried to determine His will by testing Him in one way or another?

Why do you think we don?t always fully trust God?  Is it because we are surrounded by fallible men, and we lump God in with them?  Why don?t we always elevate Him to the place where He belongs?

Now think about Gideon from the quote at the beginning of this chapter.  Why do you think he tested God not once, but twice before he went into battle?

Hunting for the Heart of God

Hey folks, my name is Sean Jeffries, and I'm glad to be a part of WeHuntSC.com!  I want to thank Clint for giving me a chance to write for the site, and I'm looking forward to sharing my outdoor experiences with you.  In this first entry I'm going to tell you a little bit about myself and what you can expect in my writings.

I'm 44 years old and live in Clover,SC. My wife and I have been married since 1998, and last year we had our first child on the day after Thanksgiving.  We named our son Paul after the Apostle, whose writings I have always loved.  I'm a computer programmer for a living, and have been with the same company since 1992, although our company name has changed a couple of times over the years due to various mergers and acquisitions.

I've been hunting deer since 1985, but got my start with birds and small game a few years before that first deer hunt.  I grew up in a small neighborhood outside of Charlotte in what was then pretty far out in the country.  My street bordered the Rea farm, and a few of us neighborhood boys used to sneak out into their fields and woods to shoot at birds with our BB guns.  It was obvious from an early age that I was into guns and hunting, so my dad gave me a little H&R 20 gauge shotgun for my 13th birthday.

That gun sat in the closet for close to a year.  It was mine, but we only went out and shot it a handful of times.  Then, one September afternoon, the phone rang.  On the other end was a friend whose back yard sat perpendicular to my own.  He was my age, and of all of the kids in the neighborhood, the two of us were the ones that liked hunting more than just about anything else, and we had previously spent a lot of time together in the woods with our BB guns.  This young fellow shared a name with a famed Scottish poet:  Robert Burns.

When I answered the phone that day, Robert asked me if I wanted to go hunting.  "Sure," I answered, "but I don't have any BBs."  "No," said Robert.  "With shotguns."  I paused for a second, excited.  "Let me ask my mom," I said.

Mom and I had a conversation which ended with her calling my dad to get his permission for me to go hunting with Robert.  Dad gave it, and thus started my first real hunt.  Robert and I hunted squirrles that day on a little seven acre tract of land that his father owned.  I don't remember whether or not we got anything, but man, I was hooked.

My first deer hunt took place during my Christmas break from college in 1985.  Robert and I went to a tract of land in Weddington, NC that he had permission to hunt on.  We didn't see any deer that day, but I saw plenty of tracks, and I knew that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I went back to college when the break ended, and Robert went on to start his own business selling tree stands.  He's still in that business today, and in addition to my day job as a computer programmer, my passion is writing books about hunting.

In the mid-90s, I started a website called "Sean's Outdoor Almanac".  There weren't many websites around in those days, and mine was one of the first personal hunting sites on the net.  Over the years it morphed into a site called "Wingshooters.net", and on that site I have documented every one of my hunts going back to the year 2000.

I'm also a Christian, and you'll be hearing a lot about that in this blog.  For many years now I've felt like my calling has been to minister to Sportsmen in one way or another.  That calling has led me to begin writing a series of books that fall under the title of "Hunting for the Heart of God".  The first book, Deer Hunter's Devotional, was published late last year just before my son was born.  My two other books are secular in nature, but both deal with hunting.

In 2007, I went on my first safari to Africa.  That safari was documented from start to finish in a book called Eight Days in Africa.  My other book is a collection of stoies and essays on hunting, and is called Always Take Your Rifle.  All three of my books are available in print and on all major eBook platforms.  You can also order signed copies directly from my website at the Wingshooters Store

In addition to the three books that I've already published, I'm currently working on the next two entries in the "Hunting for the Heart of God" series.  The first is a novel called The Cabin, which is set in the world of the outdoors and deals with spiritual warfare.  The second is another devotional entitled Daily Bread for Deer Hunters.  From time to time I'll be posting excerpts from my books here in this blog.


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