By Gary Miller
For years I have plodded up to the barn to hunt deer. It is my favorite place to take a youth or someone new. It has also produced a good harvest for me as well. There are so many stories; I will never remember them all.
The one that comes to mind now is the one morning Jim let me know there was a nice buck running around in the bottom field. It was during the second rut. He had watched the buck and some does as he worked around the yard. He lived there so he was my most reliable scout. Each day as he worked and piddled, he would be privy to deer sightings and he was always willing to share any information.
After his news that morning I decided to set up a quick pop-up blind in the area he had alluded to. The blind would only be about 20 yards from a metal barn and about another 100 yards from his house. It was a place where the deer was used to seeing human activity all the time. The blind, however, would keep me hidden while I waited on the buck to show up. I had barely got into the blind that afternoon when almost like clock-work, a string of deer began to move into the field. The buck was among the deer. Jim’s prediction was right. Twenty minutes after I had gotten into the blind, the deer was mine.
Over the years, Jim’s kind and consistent demeanor was a welcomed sight. Most of the time, our conversations were not about deer, but about family, health, church, and his projects around the farm. No matter if he was gardening, mowing, or doing errands for Joyce; the ventures were meant to be just below the size and effort of an actual job. After all, he was retired and he liked this part of his life. Because of the busyness of my schedule during the last several months, I had not talked to him any. But, the other day, I felt the urge to go check on him. I’m glad I did. He was not doing well. Yesterday Jim died.
Even though we know it is coming, death is rarely welcomed. While Christians are promised a better home and body, relationships are broken. Joyce will remain here – without Jim. It is difficult but God doesn’t leave us without hope or help. His help comes in the form of superhuman strength to make it through the difficult days. His hope comes from the promise of His Son that one day these relationships will be restored. Until then, I too will miss Jim and will be reminded of him every time I go to the barn.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.