The trip also is a good time of bonding for me with other men in my life. Each of them represent a different type of relationship. There is my father-in-law, the older, somewhat eccentric, sometimes frustrating, but very likeable old codger around camp.
Then, there's Robby, our worship pastor at The Crossroads, and one of my best friends. I've only known Robby for six months now, but he and I just really work well together. It was a joy to get to spend time with Robby in the relaxed atmosphere of a deer camp. Plus, he's great to bring along since he cooked New York Strip steaks for us one night (even if he did get himself the biggest one :-).
Landon is a teenager whom I have known for almost eight years now. I baptized Landon, have prayed for him, fought for him, cried for him, and loved him. I took Landon hunting for the first time last year and the rascal killed a nine-point. Landon is fun to have on a hunting trip. He brings a lot of energy and excitement.
James had gotten his rifle last Christmas. It was a .243 that belonged to my grandmother. She was no longer able to hunt, so she gave it to James. She passed away this summer, so it was a special gift for James.
It took us a couple of hours to find the deer because there wasn't really any kind of trail for us to track it, but I was determined that we were not going to leave the woods without that deer. Several of the other guys came to help us look for it, but James and I together were the ones who actually found the deer.
Two days later, I went out by myself (James decided it was too cold for him to get out on the stand) and got a ten-point, one of the nicest bucks I have ever killed. But, I have to tell you, I wasn't even half as excited about killing my buck as I was about James killing his.
So, here's the huge lesson that God spoke to me about through that experience. I killed a much bigger deer than my son. I am a more experienced, more skilled hunter than my son. I can make better shots that lead to a quicker, cleaner kill with a whole lot less nervousness. I can sit still quieter and longer than he can. At this point, deer hunting is tremendously easier for me than it is for him. And yet, I was infinitely more excited about him killing his deer than about me killing mine. I'm talking fist-pumping, high-fiving, shouting, can't wipe the smile off my face kind of excitement.
So why is that? Because I take so much delight in my son that I would rather see him do what he can (even if it's not as "good" or "easy" as I could have done it) than just doing it myself. And here's the huge spiritual lesson that God hit me over the head with. That's why God delights to use us fragile, messed-up, failure prone, nervous, doubting, humans to fulfill his plan. It's because he delights in seeing his work done through his children.
Yeah, sure, he could just do it himself, and he could do it better and quicker and easier. But, it's not just about getting the job done. It's about watching his children try, watching our attempts to please him and follow him, watching as we often mess up and make mistakes, but then screaming his head off cheering for us when we get it right and taking absolute delight in us when we fulfill his will for our lives and for eternity. He's a proud father who would rather see his children's attempts to please him and follow him, who would rather accomplish his work through us, than just to do it himself.
Man, thank you God for using us. Thank you for my amazing son who has been teaching me about you from the very first moment he came into this world. I am truly blessed.