Jan
13

Reunion by Randy Rowley 1/13/09 ©

By

On January the 1st, my son, Ryan, and the rest of his battalion headed for Iraq.  Ryan’s specialty was forward reconnaissance – a skill that wasn’t needed, as the coalition had already secured the country.  Therefore, he spent the bulk of his time guarding VIPs.  Among those he guarded were the Secretary of Defense – Donald Rumsfeld, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four-star generals, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) magazine’s editor and staff on their first visit to Iraq.  The VFW interviewed and took pictures of him.  He graced the cover of their magazine’s October issue, and they quoted him in their feature article!

Ryan was gone for almost a year, but it seemed like ten.  Every time I heard or saw in the news that a soldier had been killed or wounded, I would cringe.  I’d then be relieved when I’d learn the unfortunate soldier wasn’t him while grieving that someone else’s son had been killed or wounded.  I developed a deep longing to see and spend time with him again during that year, probably because he was frequently on my mind.

Ryan and I always had our best times in the field, on a boat, or at a shooting range.  Before he left, we went deer and hog hunting at the Haun Ranch near Victoria.  I killed a hog on that trip, but Ryan struck out.  He was disappointed he didn’t get his first deer, and I was determined to help make that happen when he returned.

Ryan returned home the following December.  We headed to the CZC Ranch near Mercury less than a week later for a deer and hog hunt.  We planned to hunt all day Saturday and Sunday morning.  For this hunt, we had something unusual with us – babes!  My wife, Chris, and Ryan’s girlfriend at the time, Beth, came along.

Ryan (using my Browning A-bolt in .30-06) and Beth hunted from Tim Price’s stand on Saturday morning, and Chris and I hunted from a tall tower stand made for one hunter, but we squeezed into it using small chairs. We saw a couple of does at the feeder an hour before daylight with my night vision monocular, but they didn’t stick around until legal shooting time.

Less than an hour after sunrise Ryan called me on my two-way radio.  He had taken a yearling doe and a gnarly seven-pointer with one antler significantly longer than the other and points going every which way.  As Chris and I weren’t seeing anything moving, we went to get them.  Around ten minutes away from the stand, Ryan called and said he’d just shot a third deer – a spike.

At that point in my life, I’d been hunting deer for 29 years, and the best I’d done was three deer during a weekend, and Ryan tied me in one morning!  We loaded his deer and headed to camp.  Ryan and I gutted and skinned them while the ladies cooked brunch.

We switched stands for the evening hunt.  Around a half-hour before sunset, a herd of around 15 hogs ran to Tim’s feeder.  They assembled in one big blob.

I wanted to shoot one of the two big hogs on the right, but they constantly moved and always had other hogs either in front of or behind them.  Finally, I was given a broadside presentation of a medium-sized boar at the front of the herd and took a shot with my Remington Model 700 in .25-06.  He fell without taking a step, as did another boar behind him we hadn’t seen.

Chris and I loaded the hogs in my truck and headed to camp.  Ryan and I gutted and skinned them while the ladies cooked dinner.  After we ate, we enjoyed a nice campfire before turning in.  Our hunt was now over – the deer and hogs would take up every inch of remaining space in our chest freezer.

I was the first one up the following morning, at 10:00 AM.  I dumped the hog guts at the designated spot and went fishing at the largest stock tank (pond).  Within 45 minutes, I caught six bass on a Rapala Shad Rap (a round bill crankbait that runs at a medium depth) in Tennessee Shad color.  Beth pulled up in Ryan’s truck as I reeled in my seventh bass.  She retrieved the tortillas from my truck and told me that breakfast was ready.  But I stayed and caught four more bass before heading to camp.

After breakfast, we broke camp and went fishing at the large stock tank.   Beth caught four bass (her first fish), including a four-pounder.  I caught three more bass.  Ryan and Chris struck out, but a large bass hit her lure and then threw the hook.  After around an hour, we headed home.

I’d been bass fishing on and off for more than three decades, including two years of fishing tournaments as an Austin Christian Bass Club member.  On my best day fishing, I’d caught four bass.  Catching 14 bass in two hours made me feel pretty good, although, to be fair, just about anyone could’ve done the same.  The large stock tank was around ten acres during the first FCS self-guided hog hunt at the CZC Ranch.  Due to drought, it was now down to two acres, so the bass were congregated.

This was, by far, my best weekend in the outdoors to that point.  I’ve shot larger hogs than I did that weekend, and I’ve had many great trips with friends, but this reunion weekend made all those trips pale in comparison because of who it was with, and it was the culmination of months of anticipation.

The Bible contains several verses about anticipation.  For example, Paul wrote in Philippians 1:23 (NLT), “I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me” and in 2 Corinthians 2:8 (NLT), “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”

The Bible also tells of a future event for us to anticipate greatly.  Jesus said in John 6:40 (NLT), “‘For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life.  I will raise them up at the last day.’”  Paul gave more details about the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  He wrote, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

Christians will have at least two face-to-face meetings with God.  Our spirits will join him in heaven immediately after we die in the first meeting.  In the second meeting, our resurrected bodies will reunite with our spirits and join God “in the air.”  That meeting will make the reunion I had with Ryan seem dull.  My reunion with Ryan was only after an eleven-month-long separation.  For most Christians, we’ll meet God after several decades of being separated from him.

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus told a parable of ten virgins who met their bridegroom.  They all brought lamps, but only five brought oil for their lamps.  When it became dark, the five with the oil kept their lamps lit, but the other five couldn’t keep their lamps burning and had to leave to buy oil.  While they were gone, the five prepared virgins went in with the bridegroom to the wedding banquet.  When the five foolish unprepared returned, they weren’t allowed inside.

Like those unprepared virgins, many people wait until it’s too late to receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  Some want to wait until having a suitable resume of good things they’ve done.  The problem is Jesus won’t accept their resume.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  No matter how hard we try, we can’t work our way into heaven.

Some people want to wait until they’ve experienced all the fun they think they deserve.  People with this attitude often find they’ve become such slaves to sin it’s almost impossible to give it up.

Other people think, “I’ll surrender to Christ on my death bed,” but few people know what day they’ll die.  They may die sooner than they think and then won’t have a chance to repent.  Jesus made it very clear in his parable about the unprepared virgins he’ll send away people who wait until the door is shut (when they are dead) to meet him.  The words I want to hear from Jesus are, “Well done, my faithful servant, come into your rest,” not, “Depart from me, I never knew you!” (See Matthew 25:31-46.)

Undoubtedly, everyone will have at least one face-to-face meeting with God.  The choice is ours, whether that meeting will be infinitely sweet or infinitely sorrowful.

Ryan

Beth and Ryan

Randy

Categories : Devotionals

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

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