Jan
13

Reunion by Randy Rowley 1/13/09 ©

By

On January the 1st, my son, Ryan, and a host of other soldiers headed for Iraq.  Ryan’s specialty was forward reconnaissance – a skill the Army didn’t need, as the coalition had already secured the country.  Therefore, he spent the bulk of his time guarding VIPs.  Among those he guarded were Donald Rumsfeld (the Secretary of Defense), the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four-star generals, and the Veterans of Foreign War magazine’s editor and staff, who 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 hurt, I would cringe.  I was relieved when I learned that the unfortunate soldier wasn’t him while not being happy that someone else’s son had been killed or hurt.  During the year that Ryan was in harm’s way, I developed a deep longing to see and spend time with him again, probably because he was frequently on my mind.

Ryan and I always had our best times in the field or on a shooting range.  Before he left, we went deer and hog hunting at the Haun Ranch near Victoria.  I killed a hog during that trip, but Ryan struck out.  He was disappointed that 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.  Less than a week later, we headed to the CZC Ranch near Mercury.  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.

On Saturday morning, Ryan (with my Browning A-bolt .30-06) and Beth hunted in Tim Price’s stand, and Chris and I hunted in the tall tower stand.  The stand was made for one hunter, but Chris and I 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.  After sunrise, the shooting started.  I counted nine shots.  Two of them were Ryan’s.

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 that had one antler significantly longer than the other and points going every which way.  As Chris and I had the truck and weren’t seeing anything moving, we went to get them.  About ten minutes away from the stand, Ryan called and informed us that he had just shot a third deer – a spike.

At that point in my life, I had been hunting deer for 29 years, and the best that I had done was three deer during a weekend.  Ryan tied me in one morning!  We loaded his deer and headed back 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 about 15 hogs ran to Tim’s feeder.  They assembled in one big blob.

There were two big hogs on the right.  I wanted to shoot one of them, but they were constantly moving and always had other hogs either in front of or behind them.  Finally, I had a broadside presentation of a medium-sized boar at the front, and I took the shot with my Remington Model 700 .25-06.  He fell without taking a step, as did another boar behind him that we hadn’t seen.  Our hunt was now over.  Ryan’s three deer and my two hogs would take up every inch of remaining space in our chest freezer.

Chris and I loaded the hogs and headed back to camp.  Ryan and I gutted and skinned them while the ladies cooked dinner.  We enjoyed a nice campfire before turning in.

I was the first one up the following morning, at 10:00 AM.  I dumped the hog guts at the designated spot and then went fishing at the main stock tank (pond).  Within 45 minutes, I had caught six bass on a Rapala Shad Rap crankbait in Tennessee Shad color.  Beth pulled up in Ryan’s truck as I was reeling 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 headed to the main stock tank.  Beth caught four bass (her first fish), including a five-pounder.  I caught three more.  Ryan and Chris struck out, but she had a large bass on her line that threw the hook.  After about an hour, we headed home.

I’d been bass fishing on and off for more than three decades, including two years as a member of the Austin Christian Bass Club.  On my best day fishing until that day, I caught four bass.  Catching 14 bass in two hours made me feel pretty good, although, to be fair, just about anyone could have done the same.  During my first hog hunt at the CZC, the main stock tank was about ten acres.  Now, due to drought, it was 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 my friends – still, this reunion weekend made all those trips pale in comparison because it was the culmination of months of anticipation.

Paul longed to be with Jesus after he died.  He 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.”

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 our Lord.  In the first meeting, our spirits will join him in heaven immediately after we die.  In the second meeting, our resurrected bodies will reunite with our spirits and join the Lord “in the air.”  Those meetings will make the reunion that I had with Ryan seem dull.  My reunion with Ryan was only after an eleven-month-long separation.  The meetings that Christians will have with our Lord will be after several decades of being separated from him for most of us.

In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus told a parable of ten virgins who went to meet their bridegroom.  They all brought lamps, but only five brought oil in jars 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 virgins returned, they were not allowed inside.

Just like those foolish virgins, many people wait until it is too late to come to Jesus.  Some want to wait to come to Jesus until they have a suitable resume of good things that they’ve done.  The problem is Jesus will not 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 have experienced all the fun they think they deserve, saying to themselves, “I’ll wait until I’ve had my fun.”  People with this attitude often find that they have become such slaves to sin that it’s almost impossible for them 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 foolish virgins that he will send away people who wait until the door is shut (when they are dead) to meet him.  The words that I want to hear from Jesus are, “Well done, my faithful servant, come into your rest” and not, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”  (See Matthew 25:31-46.)

Without a doubt, everyone will have at least one face-to-face meeting with our creator.  The choice is ours, whether that meeting will be infinitely sweet or infinitely sorrowful.

Ryan

Categories : Devotionals

Bible verse of the day

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

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

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