Please welcome a guest writer to “Treestand Devotionals” this morning. A good friend, a minister of the Word, and a hunter to boot…what’s not to like?

Good Morning Brothers….

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his, will pursue his principles unto death. (Thomas Paine) The hope of every man…. to stand and look fear in the face and laugh at it. To not shrink back but to stand strong while facing anything that comes at you. Some may say that this thought starts at boyhood and quickly grows as the individual grows. Others may say that it’s the father, or father figure, in their lives that have made them want to be fearless. Either way, I am assuming that it’s safe to say we have all fallen short of being heroic at some point in time or another.  This is where if found myself this last May.

Two years ago, a friend of mine and I, had a dream to go on a hunt somewhere other than Kansas. See…we both had grown up hunting in Kansas but the thought of going outside of Kansas had never been an option for various reasons. We figured we could make it happen with a few other guys that wanted to tag along. We just had to find that perfect specimen to hunt. We looked at few different options and finally came upon the Black Bear. Hunting the Black Bear was a unanimous “Yes” and we were excited.

As time went by, and the planning started, many people around us; wives, friends, parents, etc. asked if we were nervous about hunting such a “scary” animal. Being not just men…but men of God! We simply replied with the most humble of statements like; “Ha…I laugh in the face of fear” but most of the time it was a simple “No.”

The time has come and we were ready to set off. We tell our spouses and children “goodbye” and we leave. Seven guys, on a journey, that none of us have ever done before. There was the excitement of the unknown and the hope of harvesting a bear. The thoughts and speeches of holding out until we see a “bruiser” were endless. The dilemma, of whether to take the bear with a bow or a rifle, was at times even paralyzing. But not one thought, of what it is, we were actually doing, ever really crossed our mind. In some ways, as I write this, I find it comical that we didn’t even think about what would happen if we didn’t see a bear.

As we turn into camp, and get everything unpacked, the next thing I know I’m in a truck headed to a treestand…and my mind goes to work. As we get closer to the stand it finally dawns on me that I am about to go sit in a tree, that “Oh by the way”, is smaller around than my thigh, to shoot something that can climb the tree and eat me if it wants too. Believe it or not, this thought never crossed my mind. So what do I do? I turn to the only thing I know to turn too…the Bible. So cliché…right? You would normally think that but here is a little glimpse of what was going through my head.

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?   (My response: I can’t do anything with a light or salvation if the bear eats me.)

Psalms 118:6  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?   (My response: God I hope this applies to bears too!!!!)

2 Tim 1:7 For God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, strength and sound mind     (My response: maybe I can beat the bear up if he climbs the tree)

I was psyching myself out and I wasn’t even in the treestand yet. So I get to the treestand and as I get off the four-wheeler…it’s dead quiet. I’m looking around as my guide sets the bait out. I start to climb the stand and he whispers out, “Okay, I’ll come get you after dark!” I quickly stopped him and ask to repeat himself to make sure I heard correctly. Sure enough I did. Here I am, never done anything like this, standing in Canada, 1500 miles away from home; no radio, no cell service. It’s just me and mother nature. For so long, I had wanted this, and now I’m here, and scared to death of what might happen to me. “It is the strange fate of man, that even in the greatest of evils the fear of the worst continues to haunt him.” (Goethe)

It has always, and probably will continue to amaze me, how much we let the enemy into our thought process. He’s been doing it since the beginning of time. Genesis 3:3-5 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ You won’t die! The serpent replied to the woman. God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The accuser will always put a question in your mind, “Can you really do this?” The enemy will always put a doubt in your heart. Fear stifles out thinking and actions. In the face of your biggest fear, will Jesus Christ be the cornerstone in your life or will you be like me, for a short moment, and allow the enemies questions to fill your mind?

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

I believe we are called to be men like the man Thomas Paine describes at the top of this blog, but it has nothing to do with us standing and facing that fear. Christ comes into our lives and says; “Where you are weak, I am at my strongest.” Trust me…

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