Acting upon the Heavenly Vision
One of the greatest spiritual leaders in the world was committed to his faithfulness to the heavenly vision. (See Acts 26:19) There are only two brief stories about my hunting experiences prior to my conversion which was brought about by the Holy Spirit of God. Something can be learned about animals from both hunting stores and the entire article. Some people will consider this anthropomorphic, and I will explain why it is not.
My first elk hunt was very simple. In the mountains of coastal Oregon, I hiked in to a wilderness area, which in part had been clear cut, to spot an elk. On an opposite hillside to where I sat observing, and across a stream the steeply sloping hill was covered with grasses, shrubs, wildflowers and tree stumps. Every day this large elk bull would come within a block of me to pasture and drink in the same exact area. It was a routine like clockwork. When elk season finally arrived, I waited in vain for this “dumb animal” to appear. He never did. He seemed to know exactly the day when hunting season began.
The next and final time I went elk hunting, I followed a Weyerhaeuser access road along a remote coastal mountain range to the hunting area. This looked more like pheasant hunting in Nebraska than elk hunting in Oregon. Cars were parked along that stretch of road about 20 feet apart as far as you could see. I had taken my bible along with me to read and meditate in as I had just completed having my ankle surgically reconstructed and did not feel capable of walking for miles. All along the mountainside you could see hunters rapidly moving towards the bottom of the mountains, staying 20 feet apart, without one shot being fired. I was a late comer and entered the only quarter mile wide strip of forest in view. It began at the roadside and spread like a belt several miles downhill.
I walked into the gigantic Douglas fir and western Hemlock trees and sat on a log while enjoying the scriptures. Beneath me flowed a crystal clear spring and under the trees there lay many large boulders. This forested area had been circumvented by the hunters, possibly because of the tangle of rhododendrons growing between the boulders. The environment where trees still grew was incredible. After an hour or so, having heard no shots, I wondered if there were any elk up there, when a boulder suddenly flicked its ear at a fly. I fired one test round into a dead tree and all the boulders sprung to their feet and ran straight down the mountainside through the trees. I had been observing a large herd of sleeping elk and never fired a shot at them. Where they went I will never know, but not one hunter fired their weapons either. See if you get this right. Who was smarter, the elk or the hunters? The rest of the day was refreshing but uneventful. It turned out to become a blessed memory even to an unsuccessful seeker.
Cock-a-doodle-dude is a real addition to our life. He is a Bantam rooster who resides in his building a thousand feet from our house. Hawks and Great Horned owls patrol the driveway to it, but the “dude” doesn’t seem to decline the journey. He regularly comes to our patio glass door, looks in and releases a loud cock-a-doodle-do to tell us he is there and ready for breakfast. As we feed him, he clucks out a very joyous thanksgiving. I gladly feed him occasionally in his building and regularly there in the coldest months, but he seems to enjoy walking the long distance to our door. After eating he sometimes runs the gauntlet back to his home to avoid the birds of prey. He seems to do some praying of his own. He has lived far beyond the normal rooster lifetime but you never met a happier alarm clock! He is cognizant of the dangers of coming to see us but that doesn’t deter him. He appears to be a bringer of joy rain or shine and I’m glad he is a friend of mine.
Enjoying the Sphinx Moth is one of my favorite things to do. They resemble a hummingbird in many ways and often in their flight, but they are related to butterflies. If one begins feeding in your flower plot, they will stay many feet away from you and permit you to be an immovable and silent watcher. Once they are assured that you have no evil intent, they will often collect their nectar so close to you that your heart will pound for they are delightful creatures. Their air acrobatics are remarkable and their friendliness develops as they become persuaded that you are a friend. Clark’s nutcrackers and of course, chickadees will be eating out of your hand once they discover you are no threat. The nutcracker will be sweet once he or she knows you do not present a danger. They are a bigger bird, nearly the size of a Blue-Jay.
Once, I had a black and tan short-haired coon hound named Butchie. While working on a barn roof with Butchie, whom I had carried there, he jumped into a straw pile to chase away a stray cat. When one of my hammers slid off the roof, I had an awesome discovery to make! Butchie was whining at the top of the ladder with the hammer handle in his mouth. His problem, I found, was he had difficulty crossing from the ladder to the roof. He had climbed it with about as much confidence as I had. Anthropomorphism does not exist because once animals loose the fear of man, by trusting those who will do him no harm. They usually are transformed from creatures that flee to very human like in some of their reactions. They often display friendship, love, a will to listen, even displaying evidence that they understand what we are trying to communicate. This is not attributing human behavior to an animal but a creature demonstrating that their sub-conscious already knows that once they and mankind were far closer than we know. Did you forget the Adam story? Or did you just not believe it?
The Bible declares that God has subjected all His creation to hope and this hope is that they would be delivered from “corruption” (corruption in this case means ruin, decay, and death). I just watched a re-run of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile hunter, showing him being attacked by a bear that lost one of her front legs due to an injury incurred by a shooting wound. This made survival extremely difficult for this animal. How many creatures do you suppose are wounded every year in our country? Some recover and some die and decay. God is waiting to bring all of these creatures into the same glorious liberty that we Christian human beings have.
The New Living Translation says in Romans 8:19-21, “For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Why would we, who claim to know and love God, continue to subject animals who are waiting anxiously for their hope to be fulfilled (which God has promised) to be delivered from death and decay? The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:29 in one of my favorite translations, “I cooperated mightily with God who works mightily in me.” Do we do that in regards to God’s promise to creation? Or do we kill and maim to satisfy our desire to kill and destroy in the name of sportsmanship, thus hindering God’s promise and making all creation wait.
When we pray, Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” When the scripture tells us specifically what God is hoping for concerning the creation, why do we need to confess by saying? “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:18b-19) The Apostle Paul once declared, “I would have come unto you once and again, but Satan hindered us.” (1Thessalonians 2:18) We don’t want to be identified with the one who hinders God’s purposes, but we do want to be connected with those who bring Heaven to earth as God purposed it.
I recently watched as two ministers rightly insisted, “Everything that God created He wants to produce and in divine order.” In our state the American Woodcock is not doing well at all. The chances of seeing one never mind shooting one are rare, yet hunting for them is still permitted. Isaiah the prophet says in Chapter 45:18 (KJV), “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Inhabited in this text means: to dwell in continuance as He formed it. This means He does not want any species reduced, threatened, or endangered. God did not intend that human beings alone inhabit the earth but that all species inhabit it.
Look at Genesis 1:21-22, “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them saying, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” As one song says, we should be “conceiving the heavens, flourishing on earth.” Amen I say, Amen!