Summary: These are the signs and results of spiritual coldness. The signs are related to the only time I went deer hunting.
By Pastor Jim May
Matthew 24:12-13, "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Being from the South we have to get used to the heat. Right now though the seasons are changing and these past few mornings have been brisk. I’m ready for the cooler weather, but if there’s one thing that I really have a hard time with, it’s those really cold mornings when I have to get out of my warm bed, put on so many layers of clothes that I feel like a turtle when I move, and then have to walk outside to go to work. I feel sorry for those poor people who get to work from home. They never get to experience the thrill of freezing as they ride to work.
I can remember some years ago that I went deer hunting. Now you won’t hear me talk about deer hunting too much, and for a very good reason. I made a promise to the Lord that day, and I intend to keep my promise.
It was well before daylight, the temperature was hovering somewhere around 25 degrees. (In Louisiana, 25 degrees feels more like 10 degrees because of the high humidity) I remember one year that I worked at a local paper mill and we had a supervisor that had come down from Canada. After a few weeks of our Louisiana winter, he decided that it was warmer in Canada and left town.
It was still dark when my friend dropped me off in the middle of the woods, near a large fallen tree. My feet were already frozen from the ride on the four-wheeler, my nose was numb, my ears were about to crack and fall off, and my vision was blurred because my eyes were nearly frozen. But we were having “fun”. We were “hunting” and taking part in a great manly ritual, male bonding and all that!
I forgot to mention that I had been freezing all night. I had never been deer hunting in my life and I certainly never did any camping in the dead of winter, so I wasn’t very prepared. Oh I had a sleeping bag – but I think it was lined with ice cubes instead of goose down. I had thermal clothes but somebody must have turned their thermostat to air conditioning instead of heating, because all night long I lay there, wrapped up so that only my nose was sticking out, and I was still freezing. Those other fellows had nice warm sleeping bags and they were snoring loudly all night long.
When I finally did get warm enough to fall asleep, that’s when they jumped up and started getting ready to go hunting. I wanted to say, “Just let the poor deer alone. He’s probably freezing just like me. Live and let live. Let’s build a fire and sing songs around the campfire instead.” But it was not to be. I couldn’t stay behind, so off I went, shivering with cold and my hands sticking to the cold steel of the rifle barrel as I went.
That’s how it was, only now, not only was I cold, but I was left alone in the middle of the night, on a tree limb out in the middle of nowhere. I had no idea where I was and I was at the mercy of the elements.
For 10 hours I hugged that tree. I can tell you that I am not a tree hugger to this day because of that deer-hunting trip. Starting at about 4 AM, all I could hear was the wind, and something moving in the bushes. Was it a deer? God only knows. All I could think of was how to find a way to get out of the cold wind. I didn’t care what was moving, whether it was a deer or a bear, just so I could get warm until the sun came up.
I don’t know what was moving, but if it was a deer, it was smart enough to come by in the dark and never come back. I think that it must have been an armadillo because I believe the deer were smart enough to stay low and keep warm. They weren’t as dumb as I was to be sitting up in a tree on a limb in the wind.
Along about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I had about as much of that tree as I could take, and I was mad at the deer for making me wait for nothing. The only deer I saw was a doe and a fawn and they were too cute to shoot. I could see it now, “Ignorant deer hunter arrested for killing Bambi and loses his Doe”. In utter frustration I promised God that If I ever got free from that tree limb, I would never go deer hunting again – and to this day I have not.