Feb
20

First Time by Randy Rowley 2/20/09 ©

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On the day before Thanksgiving, most men think about the next day’s meal and football games, but I was thinking about deer as I sat in my pop-up blind on a small property near Round Rock.

A Carbon Express Terminator arrow with a 125 grain Magnus Stinger broadhead was nocked on my Browning Midas compound bow.  My rangefinder was in my chair’s drink holder, my binoculars were draped on the chair’s other arm, my grunt call was hanging around my neck, my shooting glove was on, and I was camoed from head to toe.  I was itching to at least see a deer – I didn’t have to wait long.

The day began to break.  Indiscernible shapes started to become visible.  With the arrival of dawn came the awakening of God’s creation.  Squirrels began to bark, and birds began to sing.

A few minutes after sunrise, a spike jumped the south fence.  At first, I thought he wouldn’t stop, but he got a whiff of my corn and headed straight for it.  He started to feed, only 24 yards away from me.

Young bucks are often careless, but this one was very cautious.  He’d bend down, take a quick bite of corn, and then raise his head and look straight at my blind.  To make matters worse, I was only presented with a head-on shot, which is far from ideal for a bowhunter.  I tried to draw several times, but each time he saw the movement and looked like he was about to bolt.  So, I didn’t complete my draw.

Fifteen minutes later, a second spike came to the corn from the north.  He wasn’t as big as the first one, but I was presented with a broadside shot.  His presence also seemed to calm the larger spike down.  He kept his head down longer and was less tense when he brought it up.  However, he hadn’t moved an inch, and I was still only presented with a head-on shot.  I decided to take the second spike, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The second spike continued to graze and hadn’t moved.  Both deer lowered their heads.  I came to full draw, pinned the nock to the right corner of my lips, looked through my peep sight, aimed at his chest, and released the string.  The arrow hit high, but he dropped like a rock.  The first spike got the heck out of Dodge.

When I went to retrieve him, I discovered the reason he’d dropped – my arrow had severed his spinal cord. Although most hunters wouldn’t consider him a trophy, I regarded him as one because it was the first time I’d killed an animal with a bow.

I started shooting a compound bow when I was 17, but only bow hunted for deer once before that day, as most of the places I’d hunted were set up for gun hunters.

So here I was, a hunter of 33 years, looking down at my first bow kill.  I was experiencing feelings I hadn’t experienced in a long time – accomplishment, exhilaration, and pride that I’d finally joined an elite brotherhood of people who’d taken an animal with a stick and string.  As I filled out my tag, I embraced those feelings, knowing no matter how many deer and pigs I killed with a bow from that day forward, I probably would never feel the same as I was feeling right then.

For sportsmen, our first times are epic experiences.  The memories of our first dove, first deer, first bass, first redfish, first shot, first gun, first rod and reel, and many more firsts are deeply ingrained into our memory banks.

I shot my first deer (a doe) with a .243 when I was 16.  She was completely average.  There was absolutely nothing special about her.  So, why do I remember her while forgetting the much more impressive deer I’ve killed?  Because she resides in my soul.

Not all first times are great ones.  I’ll never forget the first time I got lost in the woods, the first time my truck got stuck, and the first deer I couldn’t retrieve (because her blood trail ended at the Lampasas River).  Those feelings of frustration and helplessness will also always be a part of me.

Likewise, the Bible is full of recounts of men and women who encountered God for the first time and how their lives were forever changed.

The best example in the Old Testament is Exodus 3:1 – 4:17, which recounts Moses’s first time with God.   Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep.  He led the flock to the far side of a desert and came to Mt. Horeb (also called Mt. Sinai).  There he saw a bush that was on fire, but it didn’t burn up.  Moses decided to take a closer look.  As he neared the bush, God announced himself and told Moses he was sending him to Pharaoh to bring his people, the Hebrews, out from Egyptian bondage.  Moses voiced every excuse he could think of to get out of the job, but he finally accepted God’s calling.

God performed many wonders and miraculous signs through Moses – the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Egyptian army, feeding roughly a million people every day, and taking them through the desert to the land God promised them.  Throughout the 40-year-long journey, Moses and God conversed many times.  God gave Moses his Ten Commandments and his law.  And all this came about after Moses’s first time with God at the burning bush.

The best example in the New Testament is Acts 9:1-20, which recounts Saul’s first time with Jesus.  Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’s disciples.  Saul went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus so that if he found any Christians there, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Suddenly, as he neared Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him, and he fell to the ground.  Jesus asked, “‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 9:4b.)  Saul asked who he was, and Jesus introduced himself.  Blinded by the light, Saul’s companions led him by the hand into Damascus.  Three days later, Ananias healed Saul, who was also filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized, spent several days with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God in the synagogues.

Saul, later called Paul, led three missionary journeys to the gentiles, led hundreds of people to redemption through Christ, started several churches, discipled at least Timothy and Titus, and wrote almost half of the New Testament.  And all of this came about after Paul’s first time with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Perhaps you need to meet God for the first time.  God has a simple plan on how to accomplish that – thank him for sending Jesus to take the punishment for your sins, ask him to forgive your sins and turn from them (repent), and ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” and Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

For many of us, our first time with God was a time we’ll never forget.  In my case, I met him on Monday, September 26, 1977, at 10:30 PM, as I knelt by my bed.  Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Instantly I had that peace.  The Lord also quickly made me a new creation.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

I was not a patched-up or rebooted being.  I was a brand spanking new being who’d never existed before!  Gone was the unsure-of-himself introvert who lurked in the shadows.  He was replaced with a confident ambivert leader.   While I’m not an extrovert, who I am now compared to who I was is the difference between night and day.

Perhaps you’ve had a first time with God, but now you’re no longer following his trail.  Romans 12:1-2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Offering all of ourselves to God, not giving in to the temptations of this world, and frequently renewing our minds through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers will result in a renewal.

Do you need a first-time with God or a renewal?  He’s always ready for people to have a first time with him and his children to return to him.  It’s never too late to embrace him.  But he’s a gentleman – he won’t force you to accept him.  You can have a first time with him if you believe in and trust him and establish the relationship.  If you’ve already had a first time with him, you can renew the relationship by repenting and trusting in him again.

Categories : Devotionals

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Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/

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