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April 29, 2014

The Triple

Something extraordinary happened to me the other day while spring gobbler hunting with my two friends (my guest Glenn, and his guest Joe). The morning's hunt started with a brief canoe ferry to avoid walking through some marsh and stirring any gobblers along the path to our final spot. We arrived on land and beckoned any local birds with some barred owl calls. An initial response was heard some distance away over some marsh. As we slowly walked on, we received another response that was closer yet across the river. After some more discreet walking, we found ourselves in our spot with a triangle of fairly distant gobbles, and we set up in a deliberate triangle ourselves. What happened next was unusual. A lone big gobbler came straight in to our initial yelping, without either gobbling or strutting, and fell on the first shot. After that, yelping hens remained nearby as evidence of birds still interested. Our serenading continued. In succession, two more birds marched in without gobbling and fell at the firing of each other hunter. It was remarkable and unusual for sure, but not impossible. What then is the extraordinary part?

Romans 12:10 (ESV)
Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.
2 Corinthians 8:21 (ESV)
for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lords sight but also in the sight of man.

The extraordinary element started the prior night. Sitting around our cabin waiting for stories, along the lines of “calls so good that they could bring in decoys”, to wane and desire for sleep to take over, we cracked the jar of a plan for the next morning. After a brief silence as to whom wanted to be the shooter or caller, I volunteered for videographer…to which Joe less than half seriously responded with a joking and boastful ”I tell you what I would like…to be the shooter and Glenn can call, and yes, Kevin, I would be glad to let you take the video”. To which we all agreed, with great laughter and not an ounce of selfishness, and one word "done".

The next morning, we went to God as our feet hit dry hunting ground and thanked him for the day and asked that we would honor Him. It was a heartfelt prayer, that ended somewhat unusually with Joe adding, “dont be afraid to ask for success”, which I imagine we all pondered as we advanced. Our final spot was a spot that had been good to me before, particularly when I asked my future father-in-law for permission to ask for his beautiful and lovely daughter's hand in marriage. Yes, it is an extraordinary and productive spot that remains the 'blessed spot' even more so after this day. The first bird was taken as planned by my guest's guest, Joe, only after the bird walked directly across and in front of my guest, Glenn, who is known for anything rather than holding his trigger! The next bird was taken by Glenn. Glenn's sudden shot startled me, as I had turned my back to him due to the two birds that had snuck in to my right, which I had the gun on and safety off (literally one step away from the dinner table). After Glenn's shot, I quickly let out a couple of yelps, hoping to keep one of my gobblers from fleeing after the second shot of the morning. Within seconds I realized the fruitlessness of it as all I saw was tail feathers darting off. When I turned to see the second bird on the ground, and then to heartily congratulate my guests, I was puzzled by the third gobbler in the decoys, apparently patiently waiting for my response. You see, Glenn and Joe were honoring me by holding steady and not moving, and the third bird fell to my shot.

After a few seconds of giddy whooping and general acknowledgement of Gods hand in our hunt, Joe proudly announced that there could be no better response or more appropriate time to call on God and give thanks and praise. There we knelt, like three “little boys” at the feet of our Father, filled with amazement, pure adoration, deep excitement, gratefulness and emotion at how our amazing God had just blessed us. We hadn't realized just yet that maybe He had just honored us in response to how committed we were to honoring each other, as brothers in Christ and as we are called to do. Absolutely without exception, each of us would have been perfectly happy for any one or even two of us having harvested a bird, and not bagging one ourselves that morning. But God had more in store for our unselfishness than we could have ever imagined. The extraordinary aspect was not so much the outcome of three birds for three separate men in the same blessed spot, but the quality of the men, the fellowship, and the rewards of living out a command that is so many times a struggle for us. “Me-itis” is rampant in our culture and seen as the best way by so many; the “look out for #1 first” or a “me first” attitude is pervasive.

This particular morning the three of us solely wanted to be as described in Isaiah 61:3b “that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.Taking part in truly loving others as Christ loves us and honoring others above yourself does not happen by accident - it has to be deliberate. Sometimes the reward is not seen, but sometimes (and most certainly all of the time in the end) we are blessed beyond measure - sometimes it truly can be extraordinary. Glory be to God…Hallelujah and Amen! - KE (guest blogger)

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