Good Morning Brothers…
How many of you have been in this type of conversation?
“Are there deer (or hogs, or elk, or whatever) in their?”
“How do you know?”
“Where were they?”
Depending on where we are and what we are looking at…this conversation may make sense or make zero sense. Standing on a logging road turn out, grabbing my bow out of the back of the truck, looking out over a couple million acres…this conversation makes zero sense. Standing next to the entrance of a high fence enclosure which covers 20 acres…this conversation makes sense. The debates between high fence hunting and free range hunting are ongoing and frankly, endless. In either scenario, however, the point is to harvest a game animal to provide meat for the freezer and skins, antlers, etc. for the wall. In either scenario, there comes a moment when the hunter is on the cusp of encountering the game animal. The difference is in the presentation and the effort. High fences promise an encounter with minimal effort by the hunter. Free range promises effort with the chance of an encounter. The moment the hunter is on the cusp…is when the magic happens. Our pulse quickens, our breathing becomes labored, our palms sweat, and our body involuntarily shakes.
Because the deer is “other”. It is “other” than us. Anytime we are on the cusp of an encounter with something “other”…our body responds. Remember your first deer? Your body responded to the encounter. For many of us, this experience is repeated every year. Some guys shake, uncontrollably, whether it is their first deer or their twentieth deer. Some guys lose the shake after their first deer. Their encounter with “other” loses its power to touch…deeply. Ever wonder why? I mean, some folks are absolutely overcome when partaking in the Lord’s Supper and some are not. Some folks feel a jolt of electricity when rising out of the baptismal waters and some just feel…wet. Some folks sing with tears running down their face and some folks just look straight ahead with their hands in their pockets. My time in the woods tells me that I can get used to my experience with “other” to the point…that my palms don’t sweat, my pulse remains steady, and my breathing shallow and calm. I still had an encounter, but the encounter was what I expected.
When we spend our Sunday mornings within the high fences we call churches, we are promised an encounter with God with minimal effort. The Bible tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” This does not have to be experiential. Meaning…we do not have to feel anything. High fence churches are a collection of people who have gathered in His name, thus, He is present. At times, the Holy Spirit moves within the assembly in such a way, that it becomes experiential. The magic of this happens when we feel like we are on the cusp…of His presence. When heart, soul, and mind is in seeking mode; when we are watching and waiting with bated breath; when our eyes begin to water; we enter in to His midst. Union is achieved and our faith is deepened. A deepening of our faith in the high fence environment should lead us to the free range style of worship. Out here, we are promised effort with the chance of encounter.
Why is this necessary you ask…?
Because of the effort. Our effort doesn’t show our works but it does show our desire…our motivations. Seeking God in the free range is seeking Him without the band, without the sacraments, without the sermon, and without the witnesses. It is seeking Him because that is our desire. It is seeking Him between Sunday’s because we don’t want to wait for the next assembly. It is seeking Him for no other reason than to be with Him. The more often we journey there, the less “other” His presence seems. There is a warmth, a feeling of contentment, a familial comfort, that only be described as love. Our efforts to spend time with God away from the assembly, in prayer, in meditation, in just sitting with Him…show something else besides desire.
It shows love…
My beloved says in John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” My beloved is in the free range calling out my name. I must go, but I am hesitant, my desire is to go, I am on the cusp, my heart has already gone……..