Saturday, February 18, 2012

Matt's Mouse

The Amazing Kelly may deserve the "Wife of the Year" award for Christmas 2011 when she bought me a crossbow.  I had been talking about buying one for some time, but never had pulled the trigger, pardon the pun. Having a disability, it just seemed a good way for me to extend deer season beyond gun hunting. Kelly knew that there was an opportunity for me to hunt coming up at a “bow only” area, and she actually surprised me before Christmas Day with this great gift.

My first opportunity to try my skills with my new toy, was with my friend Matt at a hunting club he belongs to in south Georgia called “The Paradise”. I'll pause here to make very clear that the name does not refer to the human accommodations. It's called “The Paradise” because it is hog heaven. It is swampy, nasty, muddy, over-grown...wait, was I describing where the hogs or people sleep?

The camp, maybe I should put that in quotations, is really a couple of storage buildings on the slab of an old house-place, surrounded by abandoned trailers demolished by weather and left by previous hunters at the club. One of the storage buildings is larger and set up a bit like a bunk house. The other is considerably smaller and is Matt's “private residence”. There is electricity in the storage buildings, but no running water inside. In fact, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night involves shoes and a flashlight!

I'll take a minute here to tell you that my hunting buddy Matt is a manly man. He's more or less a confirmed bachelor. His best friend is what most of us consider to be the ugliest dog on the planet, a German Wirehaired Pointer named Montana. He has a real job, but he could easily live off the land if need be. Matt grows his own vegetables, and hunts and fishes for meat. By the way, when he's hunting, virtually everything that moves, he does so with bow and arrow he made himself. And when it comes to “The Paradise”, he loves the place.

After the first day of the hunt, we ate a big supper and sat around the campfire and chatted until it was time for bed. (Morning comes early when you're at “The Paradise”.) Matt helped me settle in at the bunk house, said goodnight, and then headed to his cabin about fifty yards away. I sat down on the bunk and was about to pull my boots off when, you guessed it, a mouse ran out from under my bed, along the base of the wall and underneath the bunk on the other side of the room.

Now, to be clear, this was not like a sewer rat the size of a small dog or anything. It was just a field mouse. And, while the amenities at “The Paradise” are a long way from “The Four Seasons”, or a Motel 6 for that matter, the place didn't appear to be over-run with the furry critters. So I decided the best course of action was just to steel my nerves and deal with it, for two main reasons. First of all, it was just a mouse, right?And what is a mouse but a squirrel with no fluffy tail and a PR problem. Squirrels don't bother me. I was literally surrounded by dozens of them while I was hunting. Secondly, I decided that if I was gonna go hunting with manly man Matt, a mouse in the bunk house was just, well, part of it.

So I decided I would be a manly man too. I mean, when I told people I was going wild hog hunting down in south Georgia with my crossbow, I felt manly. When I sat around the campfire and drank black coffee and told of the adventures of past hunts, I felt manly. When I sat out in the rain in my camouflage and waited for a wild animal to come within spitting distance to harvest and provide meat for my family, I felt manly. But, ya'll, when that mouse came back out in full view and ran underneath the bed I was sitting on...I was done being manly!

I got on my crutches, walked outside and, according to Matt, screamed like a little girl. In my defense, Matt was in his cabin 50 yards away sleeping with earplugs and a snoring dog. I was just trying to get his attention. After a few minutes, I saw a light come on, and a few minutes later, he was walking up the steps to the bunkhouse. “You rang?,” he said, grinning sheepishly. I said,”Hey, brother. You can make fun of me all you want to, but I'm not gonna be able to sleep with your little friend in there.”

And he did. He made fun of me quite a bit. He called me some names that I'll not repeat in a Christian devotional book. Some were clever, some were funny, some were well...true. He gave me a good ribbing, all in good fun.

And then do you know what he did? He traded places with me! He packed up all my stuff, my sleeping bag and everything and moved me to his private cabin. And, knowing Montana would be up all night with a stranger in the room, Matt moved to the bunkhouse. Now Matt's place was no Ritz Carlton, but there were no signs of mice, and I spent the next two nights in relative peace, quiet and comfort.

I know it's not a perfect allegory, but it does give us just a little glimpse into what Jesus did for us. What was that? Well, He traded places with us. That should have been us on that cross. All of the pain, suffering, torture and humiliation should have been poured out on us for our sins. 1 John 2:2 tells us, “(Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Did Matt make fun of me because I'm not as manly as he is? You bet. Will God make fun of us because we are not righteous and holy as He is? No, but it is on that premise that we will be judged. But never fear. If you have accepted the precious gift of Christ's atoning sacrifice, then God will declare the debt of your sin paid in full. How should we respond to a love like that? James 2:12-13 tells us, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

And after we pass from death unto life, God gives us a mansion with Him in Heaven...with no mice.

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