Tonight from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at Bluebird Books, downtown at the corner of Sherman and Main—-BOOK SIGNING—-Treestand Devotionals—-Hope to see you there!!!

Good Morning Brothers…

The tools of the hunting trade are cherished for their value. Their value in providing game. An uncanny attachment to certain tools happens over time. Whether this attachment is to a favorite game call, a sturdy pair of boots, or that shotgun which just feels right cradled in the nook of your elbow. A fondness for these favorites becomes as much a part of the season as the season itself. I enjoy the beginning of a new season and the rituals which take place before taking to the fields and forests. I like to open up the plastic tubs of hunting clothes and wash them in unscented detergent to at least begin the season without any man stink on them. I enjoy cleaning the rifles and shotguns to insure a smooth action and to stave off rust. I relish the sound of THUMP-THUMP-THUMP as the arrows impact the target while I tune and adjust my bow for the upcoming hunt. These tools of the trade become an extension of the persona of the hunter. It is more than mechanical repetitious actions, our tools become one with us in some meta-physical way. We invest time into these tools and anytime we invest time…a bond occurs.

Whenever the cherished bond of invested time is passed down, it is a special occasion. Many of us have rifles and shotguns which belonged to our father, our grandfather, our ancestors. We recognize these weapons for the fondness our ancestors had in them. They are special to us…because they were special to them. When we carry them, when we employ them, when we hunt with them, we recognize we are carrying family history. My great grandfather, on my fathers side, was a builder and a traveling preacher. I never met him, but I’ve heard stories about his attention to detail and his love of our Lord. On a recent trip out to the west coast to visit my parents, I was given a little black book that my great grandfather carried with him. It is filled with poems, stories, and handwritten notes of the devotional variety. My father tells me he carried it with him as a daily guide to worship and would often preach from the messages contained therein. I want to share with you from the little black book of my great grandfather.

Work or Pray

To work with my hands is just helping,  To work with my heart is to love;              But to work on my knees by real praying, Will always bring God down from above;                                                                                                                                  And who, who can help those around us, To find in their Savior their rest?           Tis only the Father can draw them, So to pray, yes to pray, is the best.

The Savior prayed on a mountain alone, As the night came up from the sea;          His face was aglow with a wonderful light, As He prayed for you and for me;        Oh, let me pray as our Savior prayed, On a mountain by the sea;                            With a face aglow with heavenly light, That’s shining for you and for me.

I can imagine my great grandfather reading this poem again and again. A reminder that prayer is always the answer for what ails us. The busyness of our lives, the stress of our schedule, the call of our duty…all fade in to the background when we live lives of prayer.

The Preachers asks himself

A hundred come to some mans church, For one…who comes to mine;                   But shall I let my envy smirch, The beauty of a shrine?                                               The thoughtless thousands may applaud, the work of lesser worth;                         But is it for applause, or God….I labor on the earth?                                                   When I enlisted did I ask, That I, the sword should bear?                                           Did I desire the soldiers task, Or wish the strap to wear?                                          Praise God I did not think of rank, Or reputation then;                                              Or praise, or money in the bank…I only thought of men.                                           Here is the vineyard, here the vine, And here the work to do;                                   I’ll labor in this field of mine, Until my work is through;                                           Though thousands pass the other side, And never seem to care;                             I’ll wait until I cross the tide, And find my laurels there.

Page after page in this little black book, tells the tale of invested time. My great grandfather cherished this book for the thoughts and direction the writings provide. I can tell from the careful method the pages were constructed that he was fond of this little black book. Oral history tells me he carried it with him everywhere his trade, or calling, sent him. It is special to me…because it was special to him. When I carry it, when I employ it, when I hunt with it, I recognize I am carrying family history. From a man I’ve never met…I detect his persona and I meet him now…and, in turn, recognize my heritage through the heirloom passed down to me.

Makes me wonder what I am leaving for my great grandchildren I’ll never meet?  

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One Response to Heirloom

  1. Paul Harshberger says:

    Great words Mr Van Bruggen , in honor of your Great-Grand-Father . They preach as well today as they did for him. I’m positive he’d be proud, that his words STILL preach, through you, in 2013 .

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