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I love this time of year as the weather begins to cool, the leaves on the trees begin to take on the colors of fall and, with the coming of fall, comes DEER SEASON. I don’t have the time to hunt and fish as I did when I was a kid but I still enjoy going out into nature and matching my wits against the creatures of the wild.

One of the things that I enjoy about hunting is the lessons that can be learned from nature and especially from the animals that God has created. I got a powerful lesson on the importance of fellowship while deer hunting this last Monday morning.

Monday was the first day that I had found the time to go hunting. I was late getting to the woods and it was already getting light, so instead of sitting in my stand, I decided to just walk the creek bottom. It was foggy and the leaves and grass were damp so it was fairly easy to walk quietly through the woods. One of the advantages of walking while deer hunting is that you tend to see more deer, especially if the deer are not moving. Stalking deer takes a little skill and a lot of luck. The hope is that you see the deer before the deer sees you, but this is much more difficult when walking than it is when sitting in a stand.

After getting to the woods, I had not walked more than 150 yards when a saw a buck about 200 yards away. The deer was looking straight at me and I thought I had already been discovered but I stood still for several minutes and he began to move around, picking up acorns and no longer paying me any attention. The deer was moving down the creek in my general direction and I was already making plans to spend the next couple of hours cutting up deer meat. The deer moved behind a small thicket and, as he did, I raised my gun to be prepared for the shot. Just as I expected, he continued to move down the creek toward me and was now about 120 yards away.

 I wanted to wait until he was less than 100 yard away to ensure a clean shot. While waiting for the buck to come into range I saw him quickly raise his head, look back over his shoulder and then he bolted, running back in the direction he had come from. I wondered what had spooked him. I knew he had not detected me—I had the wind in my favor, I hadn’t made any noise and he never again looked in my direction. It was then that I realized there was another buck that I had not seen and that buck was watching me when I raised my gun. That buck sensed the danger, threw up his white tail and ran and the buck that I had been watching took warning and ran as well.

While it is relatively easy to stalk a single deer, it is almost impossible to stalk two or more—there are just too many eyes watching. I’m confident that if the buck I had been watching had been alone, he would now reside in my freezer. But he was not alone. He was with one who shared his desire to avoid danger and it saved his life.

What an object lesson for Christians on the importance of fellowship. In I Peter 5:8 we are told, Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Satan is seeking to destroy us and he has many traps in which to ensnare his victims. One of our greatest defenses against this enemy is our fellowship with those who share our faith and our desire to avoid the temptations of Satan. In Galatians 6:1-2 we are told; Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

 Just like that deer that was not aware that he was in a hunter’s cross-hairs, we, too, can be lured into sin unaware that it will cost us our soul. And just like that deer whose life was saved by another deer that was watching and gave warning, we, too, need to be watching and give warning to one another when we detect one of Satan’s deadly schemes. We are all vulnerable to temptation and we need each other in our struggle against Satan. We have a responsibility to be there for one another, to encourage one another, to watch out for one another.

Considering my hunting experiences over the years, almost all of the deer that I have killed were alone. Rarely have I been able to get a shot at a deer when there was more than one. Considering my Christian life over the years, the times that I have been the most vulnerable to temptation was when I was alone and the times that I have been the strongest against temptation was when I was with my brethren. This is why fellowship is so important. God intended for his people to be together, to encourage and to help one another in the struggle against sin. Acts 2:42 tells us that fellowship is one of the things to which the early disciples were devoted. Let’s make every effort to devote ourselves to the fellowship of believers so that we might help one another avoid being tempted and devoured by Satan.        –Wendell Ingram

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