A few weeks ago I went deer hunting for the first time in my entire life. I grew up in the country, in a town that is full of city folk visiting deer leases every fall to try and shoot themselves a trophy buck to mount on their wall. I hated it when I was a kid thanks to the movie Bambi. I also hated it because one year I ran out the front door of my uncle’s house to see three deer hung upside down with their insides hanging out. I yelled at everyone that they killed Santa’s reindeer! That is when I was told that there was no such thing as Santa. I love my uncle very much but one thing about him that most people wouldn’t have liked was how very realistic about things he was. Like the fact that flies couldn’t hurt me, so when I screamed bloody murder when one landed on me because I was scared of them, he flung dead ones at me until I realized that they weren’t hurting me. Some people might think that is a cruel way of teaching me things like there is no Santa or that flies don’t hurt you, but as I sat in that deer blind in the quiet of the sun setting, I realized that what he really taught me was to not be afraid. I don’t know if he knew it or not, but he taught me to not be scared because being scared keeps people from doing what they are meant to do in this world. Fear is what keeps us small. Keeps us from letting people in, keeps us from loving with everything we have and from making moves or not making moves. Fear kills discernment. We can’t think straight when we are scared and we can’t hear God’s voice past the fear either. Discerning isn’t about what God wants when we are scared. It becomes about avoiding what we are scared of.
I’ve come to see that God is a lot like my uncle when it comes to teaching me not to be scared. Instead of dead flies, God throws people at me who fail me or who don’t like me. In each of them I learn that people not liking me is ok, it doesn’t hurt me. In fact, if they have good reasons to not like me and the guts to tell me then they can actually help me be better. When people fail me, it’s ok because God is still there. There is nothing to fear. I am slowly learning that. Slowly being the key word.
Sitting in a deer blind waiting for deer to come out of the brush in a chair that hurt my butt, I remembered sitting in the hospital waiting for my uncle to die. As much as I would like to write that differently in beautiful words that wash away what exactly I was doing, I can’t. Eight months has passed since the day that he took his last breath. I have been holding mine ever since. I lost a little of everything that day. I lost my faith that God will actually take care of me. I lost a little bit of the fire that burned in me since my conversion and I lost a little bit of my hope that everything will be ok. I feel like I have been sleep walking since my uncle took his last breath. Nothing seems real and what used to be so very real just doesn’t seem to matter. I have been waiting but I don’t know what I am waiting for.
Now it’s advent and the waiting has a purpose. A meaning. Jesus. The babe in the manger. He is a reminder of what I am waiting for. I am waiting to be saved. Maybe I have always been waiting for that and that is why I have been restless all my life looking for something to fill all the holes that people have left in me when they let me down, hurt me, insult me, make assumptions about who I am or just plain dismiss me as being a flake. Nothing will do that though, but Someone will. His name is Jesus and I am waiting for Him.