I married a hunter. Even though I’m a native of Michigan, we weren’t a hunting family, so my transition to being a wife of a hunter was a bit of a culture shock. Growing up, my past-time of looking for deer consisted of a gaggle of kids bouncing around in the flatbed of a Ford pickup truck, loudly singing “doe a deer a female deer” as in “come out come out where ever you are” and I definitely was not wearing camouflage, as it’s earthy khaki and mossy green are not in my color wheel!
My Tennessee born husband, however had a completely different upbringing. He was trained to consult wind reports, pour over topical terrain maps, scout fields in search of rubs and scrapes (hunting translation: that is a sign of a Big Buck), use non-scent laundry detergent, stealthy follow a maze of bright-eyes, (hunting translation: these little pencil head size reflective dots that illuminate when flashed with a flash light), to ultimately climb a ladder up into tree to sit silently for hours on end. Sounds crazy right? In my husband’s pursuit of having me embrace a hobby he is passionate about, he puts me in a box stand (hunting translation: think of a treehouse with windows), allowing me protection from elements, the comfort of a folding chair and hours of solitude to envelope me.
I’ve come to enjoy this time in nature because, let’s be honest, when do you ever get to voluntarily just sit for hours in silence? Sound dreamy right? Regardless of your views on gun control or vegan eating, stay with me, as there is a peacefulness I have found in the quiet of a deer stand.
Upon entering the stand, I silently open the plexiglass windows to let in the sounds that surround me. I close my eyes to allow nature to become more audible: there is the rustling of leaves, acorns and pinecones dropping. Since our dating-days, I’ve learned to distinguish the rhythmic beats of a passel of possums scuttling nearby, compared to a rafter of turkeys entering from behind the stand. My ears alert me to the hum from a bird landing on a branch besides me, my eyes flicker open to view the gorgeous patterns within its feathers. It’s in my stillness that I smile, recognizing it’s not quiet at all. As I’ve become immersed in life happening around me, my heart and soul also are singing with what they’ve been holding beneath the surface:
Why can’t our family find a rhythm of rest?
Why can’t I connect with a friend who is on my heart?
Why can’t I solve a nagging and festering issue?
As these thoughts circle in my head, I start to pray. The book of Acts chapter 12 has taught me to pray earnestly, regardless of the hardship I am in; to pray expectantly that God will answer; and to respond excitedly when my prayers are revealed. So, I welcome God into this time and intimacy with me, asking Him to search my heart (Psalm 139) and then prompt me to celebrate or repent what He reveals.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves”. Psalm 127:1-2
More often than not, He reveals an area in which I need His help, and like a loving Big Daddy in Heaven, He teaches me how to:
“…demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. 2 Corinthians 10:5
In these quiet times, God’s voice has BOOMED (the complete opposite of quiet, right?), such as sabbath, salvation, surrender! He shouts His desires: for me to protect His Sabbath, to bring others to salvation and to surrender additional areas of my life.
Wow – when we quiet the chatter and action of our head and body, we can hear from God and feel the Spirit come alive inside of us!
Rustle, rustle, pause … Rustle, rustle, pause, jolts me back to sitting in a deer stand. As I strain to locate the producer of the hoof steps, I’m caught up with waiting and watching and wondering of what will walk in. Time moves on. A turn of my head and a different animal sneaks in the field on the other side – kinda like a rabbit trail the Bible takes me on as I read scripture, commentary and notes. And as quick as a hummingbird, the Big Buck appears. My husband and children would love this moment, yet I am the one given the chance to watch him. I cringe as I hear my chair creak and I realize I am holding my breath, trying to get a better view without leaning out the window. I sit for another 45-minutes completely engrossed watching him walk in zig zag strides, confidently enjoying his dinner in solitude. In my absence of distraction, dusk has passed and night has come. It’s time for me to leave the woods, yet all I can think is how peaceful I feel after spending time in creation and directly with the Creator, …and how I cannot wait to tell my family about watching the Big Buck!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that you give me (and my friends) a longing to sit quietly with you. I desire to invite you, Lord, to join me, as I earnestly, expectantly and excitedly listen for Your voice to boom. Please prompt me to share my heart and soul with you regularly, so that I can feel the Holy Spirit’s presence envelop me.
*First published at Good Word Project February 2020