Almost 10 years ago, I was working at a camp up in Wisconsin. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember being very, very upset and grieved. It was one of those hurts where you cry so hard you feel like your heart may fall in on itself. I didn’t want anyone to see me crying so hard, so I left the camp and walked into the woods to get away with myself. I found a log, and sat on it. And because I couldn’t put my own words together to voice my pain, I used others. I sang out songs of old, from the hearts and lips of songwriters past, so that God could hear my heart and hear my grief. I sat there, crying, as words fell into the air, and floated softly up to Him.
I have decided to follow Jesus. I sang the words, and they ministered to my heart. I have decided to follow Jesus. My viewpoint began to change. I have decided to follow Jesus. Things weren’t as hopeless anymore, but the hurt was still there. No turning back. No turning back. Tears kept falling, but I went on singing. And as I started the second verse, I saw her. Maybe 10 feet away, a doe lifted her head from behind a bush. She looked me straight in the eyes, and I kept singing. Though none go with me, still I will follow. She started walking towards me. Though none go with me still I will follow. It was one of those moments that truly deserves the word Awesome. I was in awe. She was quiet and sure footed. And she started walking right up to me. Awe-inspiring. I kept singing, and she kept walking. No turning back. No turning back. She walked right up to me, and then, she sat down. Right there, right in front of this log I was sitting on, right next to my feet. She just sat there. No fear, no timidity. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought she was my pet. I sang and she sat. The world behind me, the cross before me. No turning back. No turning back. I finished the third verse, she got up, looked me in the eyes one last time, and walked away. She didn’t run away, she walked, and I sat there, in the silence of the woods and watched her. Awe-some.
Since then deer have been a mark of remembrance in my life. Every time I see one, I am reminded that He loves me. When I see groups of them it is like He is telling me over and over in the moment. “I love you, I love you, I love you.” Even growing up in Tennessee where deer can be a dime a dozen, they are never commonplace to me, and they never become last year’s news.
And so, I was shocked when I realized I have never looked to see what the Bible says about deer. I have read so many passages, and thought of the picture’s deer bring to the scripture, and yet it never hit me to look them up. And so tonight, I went on a search for them. And this is what I found:
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
Psalm 18:33, NLT
As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1, NLT
Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
Song of Solomon 2:7, NLT
The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
Isaiah 35:6, NLT
The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
These deer are definitely a reminder of His love. But all this time, I missed how they were so much more. They weren’t just a reminder of love, they were a reminder that I was in the very place He wanted me in. They were there to remind me that He was holding me, that He had made me surefooted, I wasn’t going to fall. I wasn’t even going to slip. He was reminding me to wait, to be patient and keep myself from manipulating my situations before they were meant to come into my life. He was reminding me of the opportunity for my heart to gush with every satisfaction my soul was created for. He was reminding me of the greatest love story I could ever imagine, the love story every piece of me longs for. The story I was meant to know personally. The story He called me to.
So often I think I am a wanderer. That I am to walk these journeys and keep walking, and keep walking, and keep walking. I see myself always searching, forgetting that there is no need to search, because it has already been found. I have already been found. I am not wandering, because I am not a wanderer. I am a citizen. I belong. I am here, in this story. The story He called me to. He called me, and He is calling you.