Mistaken Identity by Randy Rowley 12/11/18 ©


On the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, I put my safety harness, light jacket, and backpack on, grabbed my Winchester Super X4 (SX4) 12 gauge shotgun, and walked towards the west side ladder stand on a small property near Round Rock.  I was hunting with a shotgun as the property was too small to hunt with a rifle safely.  As I neared the creek, a doe ran out, followed shortly by an eight-point buck.

He was in range, but I had two problems.  For starters, my binoculars were in my backpack.  I couldn’t tell with my naked eye if he was a legal buck for Williamson County, which requires bucks with branched antlers to have a 13-inch minimum inside spread.  Secondly, my shotgun wasn’t loaded yet, as I would soon have to climb the stand’s ladder.

I crept up to a big tree ten yards away, trying to use it to hide my movements.  As the buck watched me, I slowly leaned my shotgun against the tree and started to take my backpack off so I could get my binoculars.  But I wasn’t slow enough for him.  He twitched his tail, trotted over to the fence, and jumped over to the neighbor’s property.  The doe followed suit.

I kicked myself for not being ready.  I put my backpack back on, went to the stand, climbed it, attached my safety harness to the eye bolt, pulled my shotgun up with the pull rope, loaded it, and got settled.

About 45 minutes later, three does jumped the fence and started to graze about 100 yards away from me.  The buck I’d seen earlier soon joined them, but the four of them were only interested in grazing and showed no interest in my corn.

I watched the buck for about 15 minutes.  I wasn’t given the presentation I needed to determine if he was legal – looking straight at me with his ears relaxed.  I grunted a couple of times, which made him look my way, but both times his ears were alert.

The does went back to the neighbor’s property, and the buck followed them.  I grunted twice more attempting to stop him.  It worked – he made a U-turn and jumped the fence.  But he started grazing again.  He eventually went down to the creek, heading in my direction, but was still out of range.

Finally, near the end of legal shooting time, I was given the presentation I needed and determined he was legal.  As he still wasn’t in range, I grunted again, trying to coax him 20 yards closer.  But this time, he turned around, went back the way he’d come, and was soon out of sight.

Sighing, I decided to call it a day even though I had five minutes of legal shooting time left.  I put my grunt call and binoculars in my backpack, but I saw movement while unloading my shotgun.  A deer was heading straight for my tree and was only 15 yards away.  A skinny bush hid its head, but I quickly decided it had to be the buck I’d been watching most of the afternoon.  I figured he’d decided to get a closer look at the source of the grunts.

I put my shotgun’s bead on his chest, took the safety off, squeezed the trigger, and eighteen 00 buckshot headed his way.  He ran away with his back legs low and crashed into the creek.  I knew he was dead.

My son, Ryan, met me at the creek.  I thought the buck had run through the creek, but he wasn’t on the other side.  We walked a few yards, and I spotted his white belly on the stand’s side of the creek.

We walked over to him.  Ryan, who was in the lead, got to him first.  He said, “That’s no eight-pointer.”  I made it there a second later.  Ryan was right – it was a spike!

Blood rushed to my head, and I broke out in a cold sweat.  I knew I’d shot a deer, so I hadn’t completely violated the cardinal rule to identify your target before shooting, but I’d partially violated it.  Fortunately, I hadn’t broken the law, as he was a legal deer for Williamson County.

After I tagged him, we loaded him into Ryan’s wheelbarrow, wheeled it to my truck, loaded him into the bed of my truck, and headed to my house.  We skinned and gutted him and put him on ice in my backyard.  The entire time I silently scolded myself for making such a newbie mistake.

Genesis chapter 27 tells a story of deceit and mistaken identity – the story of Jacob’s theft of his older twin brother, Esau’s, blessing.  Isaac, their father, had grown old and blind and knew he was about to die.  He commanded Esau to get his quiver and bow, go hunt wild game, prepare it for him, bring it to him to eat, and he would bless him before he died.

When Esau left, Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, who favored Jacob and who’d heard Isaac’s command to Esau, hatched a wicked scheme.  She had Jacob bring two goats to her, which she prepared to Isaac’s liking.  She also had Jacob put on Esau’s clothes, and she covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins.  Jacob then went to his father to serve him the meat.

Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who suspected something was amiss, as his son had not been gone long.  Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”  Jacob replied, “The Lord your God gave me success.”  Isaac touched Jacob and recognized the voice was the voice of Jacob, but the hands were the hands of Esau.  But the smell of his son was the deciding factor.  It was like the smell of a field.  Isaac then gave his blessing to Jacob because he thought he was Esau.

Shortly after Isaac blessed Jacob, Esau came in from the field, prepared the game he had killed, and brought it to his father.  They then learned of Isaac’s mistaken identity and Jacob and Rebekah’s deceit.  Esau asked Isaac to bless him too, but Isaac had given his only blessing to Jacob.  Instead, Isaac prophesied Esau would serve Jacob.  Esau then vowed to kill Jacob.  Upon hearing this, Jacob fled to Harran, where his uncle lived.

Unfortunately, there are many sad stories of men today being as good an actor as Jacob was.  We put on fronts and act like we’ve got it all together.  When another man asks us how we’re doing, we give the universal answer – “I’m fine.”  Inwardly, many of us are weary, afraid, unsure of ourselves, jealous, bitter, proud, lustful, selfish, depressed, etc.  But we’re such good actors fellow Christians think we’re living the victorious life.  We say and do what’s expected, but we’re in chaos inwardly.  We have little peace or joy.

Proverbs 27:17 (BSB) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” and Proverbs 11:14 (NASB) says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

We need to stop acting.  We must be open and honest with fellow Christians when going through trials and when we’re struggling.  But we must use spiritual discernment and not reveal things to believers who are incapable of helping us.  These include backslidden Christians who no longer walk with God and baby Christians who don’t know how to help us.

We can never fool God – he’ll never mistake our identity like Isaac mistook Esau’s identity.  God sees into the deepest reaches of our hearts.  He knows us and even knew us before we were born.  God said in Jeremiah 1:5a, “‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’”

We can’t hide from God’s sight.  He said in Jeremiah 16:17, “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.”  Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:1-11 provide the recount of God uncovering Adam and Eve’s sin (disobedience) after they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They fooled themselves into thinking they could hide from God.  It didn’t work out very well for them.  And trying to fool God and hide our sin from him and who we really are won’t work out very well for us either.

God knows the truth because he is the truth.  Matthew 14:6a says, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.’”  As God is the truth, he knows what’s not the truth.

Like I mistook that spike for a mature buck, do people mistake who we really are with someone we’re pretending to be?  If so, it’s time to stop pretending and be honest with ourselves, God, and mature Christians.  When we’re honest with God – when we come clean with God in prayer, he’ll respond to our honesty.  And then he can use us to further his Kingdom.  Also, when we’re honest with mature believers, we’ll find they’ll sharpen us and help us achieve victory.

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A little that a righteous man has Is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, But the LORD upholds the righteous.