Oct
09

Groaning by Randy Rowley 10/09/18 ©

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Over many years of hunting, I’ve heard a lot of sounds – barely audible sounds, loud sounds, frightening sounds, crashes, growls, howls, shrieks, screams, and cries of agony.  But on a hot Saturday afternoon deer hunt in early October, I heard a sound I’d never heard before.

I was driving towards the parking area on a property I was hunting outside of Round Rock when suddenly, I was greeted by a doe running in front of my truck and then towards the creek, with a young 8-point buck following her in hot pursuit.

I don’t think I startled them.  She seemed very intent to get away from her pursuer, and he seemed just as eager to catch up with her, and neither of them gave me as much as a sideways glance.  Soon they were both out of sight.

After parking my truck, I put on my safety harness and backpack, cocked my crossbow, went to the west side feeder, and added corn to the ground.  I then climbed the 15-foot-high ladder stand 24 yards away from the feeder, pulled up my crossbow with my pull rope, nocked an arrow, pulled out my binoculars and grunt call, and became still.

In around an hour, I saw movement.  A doe had emerged from the woods.  She stood there looking toward the feeder for about three minutes.  She then headed toward the creek until she was out of sight.

In less than three minutes, she came up from the creek, but she wasn’t alone – two other does had joined her.  They walked slowly and carefully towards the feeder, pausing every few steps to look around.

Suddenly, the trailing doe took off and ran back towards the creek.  The reason for her fright soon emerged – the 8-pointer I’d seen earlier had returned.  I don’t know if it was the same doe that ran earlier in front of my truck, but it was the same buck.

In a flash, they were both out of sight.  The remaining does seemed to shrug their shoulders and resumed walking cautiously towards the feeder.  After around five minutes, they finally arrived and began eating cautiously, looking in all directions as they ate.  I had an easy shot at either of them but decided they were too small.

After around five minutes, I saw movement from the creek again.  The buck had returned.  He came out into the open and stood still, watching the does.  Unlike the does, who looked in all directions, he was focused intently on just them.  This gave me several seconds to look him over.  I confirmed what I had earlier thought – he wasn’t a legal buck for the west side of IH 35 in Williamson County, which requires a 13 inch minimum inside spread for bucks with forked antlers.

He might have gone eleven inches.  He’ll probably develop into a legal buck in a year if he’s not killed, but I didn’t hold much hope for him to make it in his present reckless condition.

As I watched the drama unfold, he slowly walked up to his would-be girlfriends.  Perhaps he was tired from chasing the doe (or does), or he thought it was time to try a different tactic.  Then he did what I’ve never heard a buck do in person before – he grunted.  It sounded like a groan.  It wasn’t loud nor long, and he only did it twice.  Remarkably it sounded just like my Flextone grunt call.

Unfortunately for him, his new tactic had the same result as his earlier one.  Both does took off and ran towards the thick woods.  He followed in hot pursuit.  In around three seconds, they were gone.

Those were the only deer I saw that afternoon, but I wasn’t disappointed I didn’t see more, as it was an afternoon filled with sights and a sound I’ll not soon forget.

Like that buck, we humans will sometimes groan when words fail us.  A groan is a deep sound our hearts make instead of our vocal cords.  Sometimes, we’re in such despair from suffering that we have no words to say to God.  Sometimes, our sorrow’s like a warm blanket we’ve wrapped around ourselves on a cold day that we don’t want to get out from under.  We’re like the overwhelmed Elijah when he was running from Queen Jezebel‘s men after he killed the prophets of Baal, and she, in turn, promised to kill him.  In 1 Kings 19:4b, he said, “‘I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”

When we’re in similar despair to Elijah’s, there’s often very little we can do to resolve it.  Some of us stubbornly refuse to be comforted when we receive hard knocks, such as losing a loved one.  Some people think such a person’s faith is weak, but even Jesus responded with deep sorrow when we learned of the death of his friend.  When Jesus arrived at Lazarus’s tomb, he wept (see John 11:1-35), knowing full well he was going to raise him from the dead.  He could have said, “There’s nothing to be upset about; I’ve got this,” but instead, Jesus displayed a very human response.

Those of us who refuse to be comforted and instead embrace sorrow when we encounter loss aren’t doing so because we’re in denial.  We know exactly what we lost.  And we know all the words in the world won’t change the facts.  Our joy can become dead, and we might even be in danger of being destroyed by our despair.

Romans 8:18-20a (NLT) says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse.”  Some of us might respond, “That’s true, but I can’t think about heaven – I just want out of my hell-on-earth.”  Or we might ask, “Where is God in my waiting?” or “Why hasn’t he fixed this yet?”

God never promised our lives would be all sunshine and roses; rather, he promised the opposite.  Jesus said in John 16:33 (NLT), “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  And 1 John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  We probably will suffer, but we can overcome because we have a victorious Savior who’s greater than Satan.

God sent the Holy Spirit to help us when we can’t find the words to pray.  Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

The Holy Spirit searches our hearts.  He doesn’t ask us to explain our pain or even put our requests into words, as we often don’t know what to pray for when we’re in despair.  He then looks at our damaged hearts and begins to groan.  He doesn’t tell us why we’re suffering or how we can overcome our despair.  Nor does he convict us for feeling bad or rebuke us for our lack of faith – telling us to “snap out of it.”  He breaks the silence of our sorrow with a deep, guttural cry.

His groans remind Jesus of the pain he suffered as he was tortured and crucified, the sting of our sins, and the agony he experienced when God the Father abandoned him on the cross.  Matthew 27:46 says, “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”  The Holy Spirit partners with us in a fellowship of pain and translates our silence.  And the man with the nail-pierced hands hears him.

It’s alright if you find yourself in despair and unable to put what you’re experiencing into words when you pray.  The Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words.  He says to Jesus, “Let me show you the pain in our child’s heart.  He needs you to cry for him as you did for Lazarus.  Please act on his behalf.”

Sometimes when we’re in despair, we’re at a loss for words, and that’s OK.  Like that buck groaned on that hot fall day, we can take comfort the Holy Spirit is groaning on our behalf.

The relentless suitor

Categories : Devotionals

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

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