Yesterday, I went deer hunting for the first time. Well, first I went barrel hunting. I definitely got the barrel, but it wasn't moving. We didn't actually see any deer we had a good shot at, and there were only about 2 squirrels in the whole area of the woods we were in. So, it wasn't very productive in the 'bring home dinner' category, but it was a pretty good time.
Since I didn't shoot at any deer, I don't have any thoughts about that. I'm contemplating the ideas of the quietness necessary, the stillness, and the patience, but those are lessons that I'm cautious about writing about, since I know that I have not achieved any level of accomplishment in those areas and don't really want to be pushed into learning them more than I already deal with!
I was actually going to reflect, just momentarily, on target practice. Here's what happened:
We went out, into the middle of the farm, and parked about 50, maybe 75 feet from a barrel. On this barrel, one of the guys stuck a bright orange target sticker. Then, sitting on a seat on the back of the truck, I shot at it. Now, for all of my rhetoric about the Second Amendment and such, I haven't pulled the trigger on a loaded gun in 12 years. It's not a hobby I've had the time, location, or finances to spend on, so I haven't done it.
So, I set down, pick up the rifle, and start to line up a shot. I look through the scope, see the orange dot, and pull the trigger. Immediately, a few things happened:
1. The rifle kicked back and the scope hit me square between the eyes.
2. The bullet, probably before the scope hit me, goes through the orange target about 1.5 inches off the bull's-eye.
3. The rifle reloaded itself and was ready to go again.
Now, about these 3 things:
1. I've never fired a rifle with a scope on it. When in Boy Scouts, we lined up the good-old iron sights, and fired. When I did this later with my handgun, I didn't hit quite as well, but missed low. I knew the rifle would kick, but I didn't put two and two together and think about what would happen with the scope and my eye with my eye so close to it. I jerked back a little, which allowed for the hit between the eyes rather than right in the eye.
Then I found out something: the reason I was having trouble seeing the target through the scope was that the scope is designed to be hard to see through when you're too close! You're supposed to keep your head back out of black-eye range so you don't get hit.
2. I'm a better shot than I realized.
Well, not exactly. You see, I wasn't shooting my rifle. Dad's loaning me his rifle, but he's bringing it as he travels up here for Thanksgiving. (Obviously, he's skipping any type of body scan or pat-down. I will have 3 security agents tackle and tickle him on arrival, though.) I shot Ryan's rifle. It's already sighted-in, with the scope dialed just right. So, having the prep-work done made it much easier. All I had to do was point-and-click. This was extremely obvious with the next gun that I shot dead-center.
3. It's nice to have a quick second chance. Had I been shooting at a deer, I might have tried to crazily pull of the second shot just to make sure it was dead!
Now, I'm not a hunter or a sportsman. I am learning some of these skills and picking up the hobby for recreation and relationship, but down in, I'm a preacher/teacher. I'm not telling you all this to help your wood-skills. I have a point or two:
1. As believers, as a church, we have a goal. Just as my goal was to hit the target, we have a goal to hit. It may be, like my barrel shooting, an intermediate goal. Long-term, I don't hope to shoot a barrel a week, I hope to shoot 5 deer, 2 turkeys, and all the rabbits I want (thinking about getting my wife a fur coat)! I may even add the duck stamp and fowl up. In our churches, our ultimate target is to make disciples of all nations. However, you can't get to all the nations tomorrow. You can, however, get started. Set intermediate goals, but never give up on the long-range goal: the Word of God presented to every tribe, tongue, nation, people. Disciples from everywhere, making disciples everywhere. Start somewhere. Even if you don't hit exactly, you can hit close!
2. Really, the heavy work has been done. I have no idea how long it took Ryan to match the scope with the rifle. I'll find out as I try to make sure mine is matched well and sighted-in. For believers, though, the heavy work was done at the Cross. Really, there was about 33 years (we'll debate that number later) that were the hardest, from the manger to the cross, and finishing at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ did the work of reconciling us to the Father, of paying for our sins. He then ascended, and the Holy Spirit descended, such that we have the help we need. Add in that God has given us His Word in Scripture, and we are simply lining up a sighted-in rifle with a giant scope. The hard part is done: pull the trigger and share the Gospel, make disciples.
3. Be ready to try again! There is no magic bullet that can completely account for our tendency to screw up. There's always a way in which we're not perfect, always something that causes us to not quite hit right, especially the first 5 times or so. Keep up the effort.
4. Realize that sometimes, the very things we use to accomplish our tasks will sting us. Either we realize as we share God's truths with people that we're not exactly right (should happen, you're not perfect either!) or the very people that we expect to help us instead bruise us. Guess what? It happens. Sometimes, it's because we're not doing something right, sometimes it's just the nature of the situation. Either way, it cannot distract from the real purpose. A bruised head shouldn't stop a deer hunter. A bruise or two should even moreso not stop us from striving forward spiritually.
Those are just some thoughts from yesterday. Eventually, hopefully, I'll have some thoughts about actually shooting a deer.