Buck, the deer who shared Advent
Concern popped into my head immediately because the buck was down. Hunting season, I thought. He’s hurt.
After a moment of eye contact with me, he slowly came to his feet. He was not injured.
Our eyes remained locked. He stood on the wooded path I was taking.
I kept walking toward him. This gentle approach happened after I flailed my arms and shouted, “I am unsafe! Run!”
I was even wearing a florescent orange hooded sweatshirt.
None of this phased Buck. He kept his eyes on me. I kept my eyes on him.
As I passed, he licked his side absently. It was just a something-to-do thing. In time, he moved away slowly like friends who take ten minutes to say goodbye after having already said goodbye. A step here. A step there. He did bounce twice into thicker woods, but there was no hurry, no rush, no fear.
This connection happened about a week ago. I never wondered why this happened. A hiker seeing a deer in the woods is commonplace. Yet to me, this was a sign from God. This was an act.
Scripture records sign acts in the Old and New Testaments. Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel stand out for their actions that drew people to God. In the New Testament, Peter, John and the disciples also employ sign acts. They pray for the Lord to stretch out His hand to heal. They do this so that signs and wonders could be performed through the name of Jesus. Luke, the author of Acts, does not portray these passionate followers as a “wicked and adulterous generation.” Instead, they are exemplary (Acts 4:29-30).
The reason the church prays so passionately in Acts 4:29-30 for signs and wonders is because God used them to bring multitudes to Christ.
In Acts 9:32-35, Luke records Peter healing Aeneas. “And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him,” Peter says, “and they turned to the Lord.” Additionally, Peter raises Tabitha from the dead. This act becomes known throughout Joppa. Because of this, many believed in the Lord (Acts 9:36-42).
Sign acts come with a caution. Focusing too much on signs or acts is not spiritually healthy. Many sects and movements can get caught up in signs and wonders and can find themselves falling into false teachings or outright apostasy.
Let’s not do that.
But what did this time with this deer mean? Was it a godly message, or was this simply the beauty of nature? Was this God, or was I making stuff up?
To answer, I’ll share that I had two exceptionally challenging days last week. When I have exceptionally challenging days, I call to God for help. If God through His Son is indeed a Rescuer, and those prophets I mention (and other prophets of similar stature say that indeed a Rescuer will come), then I will to turn to the heavens and demand help.
Here’s the thing. Every time I do this, seriously, every time I do this, God responds. Specifically, God responds with help. My visit with Buck was one of the ways God answered one of my clenched fists, deep-in-the-hurt-of-my gut prayers.
Buck’s message was one of God reminding me—or showing me—what Advent is. As we light altar candles each Sunday in this season of Advent (the preparation for the baby who will be King), I heard what I need to hear less than 15 hours after I prayed for help. These weren’t candles, but the words peace, strength, gentleness and grace still reside in my soul from the unexpected yet welcomed visitor on the path.
I shared I had two exceptionally challenging days last week. The second came like the first. In the hurt and heartbreak, I repeated what I did the first time: I clenched my fists and cried a deep-in-the-hurt-of-my-gut prayer to God, my Rescuer.
You can guess who I saw on the lawn two minutes after I prayed.
It was Buck.
God didn’t send a message once. He sent it twice.
Was this sign act through a deer? You decide. But I’ll say yes.