A story of overcoming fear, learning to trust, and success!
“Fear is the Devil showing us where we need more faith.” is a saying that I got during my prayer time about the time I started CTO. I have it written on my white board in permanent marker in my office because it means that much to me.
This past firearm season we had a new First Hunt Sportsman, Garrett drew the short straw and had to have me for his Guide. He was extremely excited to be on this hunt and was ready as anyone could be after working with our First Hunt worksheets. Friday Night Garrett became a master of the tic, tac, toe, pick your spot, and squeeze. I was very confident that if given the opportunity Garrett would harvest his first deer.
The biggest problem we were going to have to deal with was the weather. It was supposed to be cold and rainy with some pretty heavy wind to deal with while in the tree. We were ready with the correct gear and had a great stand, but the wind would definitely be at our faces.
It wasn’t until we reached the stand that Garrett surprised me by telling me he had a fear of heights and couldn’t climb into the stand. In fact he didn’t share this with me until I was already in the tree some 20 feet in the air. Since I was already in the tree I set up all my guiding materials and then made my way back down to Garrett. He said, “I’m afraid of heights.” I responded with, “Well that would have been some good information to have before we got out here, but now we are here we don’t have a ground blind or any of the materials needed for hunting on the ground so let’s get in the tree.” He was having no part of it. That is when I decided that the hunt was probably not going to happen, but that we needed to work on overcoming his fear.
Garrett had some other fears that we had to overcome at summer camp this year too, but we had conquered all of them. This was no different. It turns out Garrett didn’t have a fear issue, but he had a trust issue. Garrett had never been in a tree before, he had never used his harness before, and he had never sat in a stand before. He didn’t trust his equipment, he didn’t trust the tree, and he didn’t trust me when I told him he didn’t have to worry because his equipment would keep him from falling. Also the wind was howling and that didn’t help either.
I then began to walk him through every part of this stand. First we were sitting in the biggest tree on the farm. I mean this tree is large; probably 6 feet in diameter. Even with all the wind it barley moved. Also we were using a TV tower for the climbing sticks. I shared with Garrett that I din’t know exactly how much weight it could hold, but that it definitely could hold more than he and I weighed. Next we spoke about our safety rope which is rated for much more than us both as well and that it had a Prussic knot which would catch him if he fell. Lastly we went over the harness and stand again how they were rated for men larger than us. After going through all the equipment I asked Garrett if he would like to go up first and then have me follow so that if he fell I would be there to help him.
We went slowly, but Garrett did it! He was able to climb up the tree! After he was seated und then strapped into his tree belt I asked him how he was feeling. He shared with me how beautiful it was in the tree and how he enjoyed being able to see over the farm from the tree stand. That’s when I told him, You lied to me.” He looked at me perplexed. I responded, “You’re not afraid of heights otherwise you’d be freaking out up here. You’re afraid of falling.” He laughed at me and said, “Yes, I guess you’re right” That’s when I ended our conversation with, “It’s okay to be scared of falling, it hurts when you suddenly stop hitting the ground.” He gave me another one of those patented Garrett looks and we sat in silence for at least two minutes before the questions started coming. Garrett didn’t have any problems getting into any other trees throughout the outing.
It was because of this experience that the Lord scrapped what we had planned to talk about and had us use Garrett’s experience in the tree as the teaching lesson. We looked at Matthew 5:1-16, and talked about trusting in the Lord. Garrett had to learn to trust in order to overcome and that is what we see in the scriptures here. When we read the first half of these scriptures known as the Beatitudes. It’s not that they are blessed because they are poor in spirit, because they mourn, or because they hunger and thirst. They are blessed because they can trust that because of Jesus they receive the kingdom of heaven, be comforted, and be satisfied. Jesus is saying that these hurts will come, that we will suffer, but because we trust in Him we are already blesses because he is the source of the satisfaction, comfort, and kingdom!
Fear of falling out of the tree almost kept Garrett from experiencing an opportunity. Because he was able to get in the woods the next morning, climb into the tree without incident, and learned how to be quiet while in the tree, he was able to see 6 deer on the last morning of our hunt. He saw several majestic bucks during this morning. Unfortunately he only had an antler-less tag, but he was excited to see what he will be able to harvest next season.