Well, it’s late Fall here on the Grand Prairie. The rice, corn, and soybeans are cut, the combines are clean, and the ducks are coming in. And, of course it’s deer season, so it’s time for another deer hunting story. (Last year’s is here.)
Once again, our story opens on the edge of a field. It was corn this year, with rice just to the east, soybeans a little north, and a thin spread of woods to the south. The sun is setting gently, and my cellphone is on “vibrate” with an alarm set for 5:26pm. Why that time? Because the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission prefers that one not hunt deer at night, night being “30 minutes after sunset.” They said sunset that day was4:56pm, so I had my alarm set–when it starts shaking, DON’T SHOOT!!
I’m sitting in my little ground blind, a six-foot high box sitting by the old railroad tracks, watching the sunset and out come a few little scrawny deer. Now, I am into my second year of filling the freezer at gunpoint, and I know a deer that’s worth the effort from ones that are not. These? You could have tripled their antler spread and I still wouldn’t have shot them. I am looking for meat, not trophy bucks. Out from behind them, though, comes a nice, fat deer. He’s on the hefty side and, on top of that, he’s standing broadside about 75 yards away.
Ahem, those of you who love forest animals, look away.
He quickly stopped standing, but as he went down, I noticed movement out of my left eye. On the east side of the deer stand, about 125 yards out, was another nice, fat deer. One without the sense to run away when another deer hits the ground after a loud “BOOM!” Rifle comes in from the south-side shooting port, goes out the east-side shooting port, bolt cycled, new round ready, and “BOOM!”
The second deer runs off. Now, I had lined up the same shot on the second deer as on the first: just behind the front shoulder, right into the kill area. My first thought? I looked back at the first deer: I half expected him to be laughing at me, having faked me out that I missed both shots.
Instead, though, he was down. We found the second deer about a half-mile away in the run-off stream for a reservoir. As we prepared the meat, I put the rib portions of the two deer right on top of each other. Guess what? The entry wounds lined up. The exit wounds lined up. I had made as close to the same shot on two different live targets I think any normal person could make. (Please note: Airborne Rangers and Navy SEALS are not defined as normal. Nor are any Marines.)
One shot had the intended effect: a nice game animal within easy carry distance of the truck. The second shot partially had the intended effect: the deer did die. She did get back to the truck and into the freezer. It just took a lot more work, even having been hit the exact same spot.
Now, where is this going? (Some of you say “Nowhere is this going!)
Just a story to make this point for us all:
Sometimes, you can do the exact same thing and get different results.
The house on that side of the church? Knock on the door, get it slammed in your face. The other side? Find a family in need of everything. Share what you can, starting with the Gospel, and see the amazing things that happen as lives are transformed. Same effort. Different results.
The church grouch on the piano side? Pray with her in the hospital one day, and watch her become the lighthouse of prayer and foundation of support in controversy for all your days of ministry. The organ side? He will come around after another four issues and three contentious deacon’s meetings. Same effort. Different results.
One church chooses to send money to a shared account for missions with tens of thousands of other churches, and then never thinks of spreading the Gospel again. After all, they wrote the check. Another church uses the same pre-printed envelopes and sends the same check and then keeps the idea of being on a goal to spread the Gospel alive in their minds. They pray, they go, they learn, and the church is transformed from social event to actual church.
The examples could go on: we can all find those times where, almost astoundingly, the same efforts produced different results. Failure follows success and success follows failure, even without major shifts in methods at times.
What do we do?
1. Re-evaluate your efforts and make sure you are doing it right: Are you aiming properly, using the proper ammunition, is your scope zeroed right? Are you proclaiming the Gospel clearly and trying to get past the cultural barriers around you?
2. Follow your shot: check for the evidence of effect. Perhaps there is one drop of blood showing that you made contact with the target. Maybe that one person cooled, just one degree—so seize the baby step and watch for further signs.
3. Have a secondary plan: carry a flashlight and a handgun. Not because hunting with a pistol is fun, but because bobcats come out at night, and you’re following the trail of their possible lunch. There may be a need to trade out programs or structures to accomplish the goal–swap Sunday School for a home group. Trade an NASB for a KJV in certain settings (both directions!)
4. Don’t miss the easy target: shoot the closest deer first. Do not fail to teach the Gospel to people already in the building just to get those not there.
5. Get local help: following a blood trail is hard, but finding your way back alone? With the farmer who owns the land, though, it was easy. Do not fall into the error that the “professional” has all the answers. Some folks in your community have been there long enough to be a lot of help.
Of course, one could instead spend a lot time arguing about the merits of a .308 Winchester over a .270 or if deer are born tasty or become tasty at a certain, undefined point later. We could argue over the merits of professional processing against getting our own hands dirty with the project. But those are other subjects for other days.
Instead, I leave you with this: If you know, based on Scripture, that what you are doing is rightly in line with the will of God, then keep at it. Even though the same efforts bring you different results.