One night, shortly after he returned from his first season as a crew member on a purse seine boat in Southeast Alaska, my 17 year old son came tearing into my bedroom about 2 in the morning with his eyes about as big as dinner plates. “Mom, didn’t you hear that? You’ve not gonna believe what just happened….”
Before bed that night, he and I had been talking about personal choices (temptation, in my outdated terminology). Like any Mom who loves her kid, I had been trying to explain how important it was to make choices that get the kind of results you want (not ones that get you over your head in messes you can’t get out of). I think my message had been falling on somewhat plugged ears. After all, he’d just been in Alaska all summer. He was all grown up now:) He’d heard all this before….(lots of times). He was being nice about it, but he still wasn’t listening….but that was around 10 pm.
My husband had built us a beautiful house on 5 secluded acres at the end of a dead end road called “Sanctuary Lane.” It was a sanctuary….there were deer, blue heron, occasional stray cows and horses, coyotes, owls, eagles, and a lot of other wild or semi-wild critters in the neighborhood. Also, seven of our kid’s closest friends, and some of our closets friends, ones we had purposely bought property with and chosen to raise our family next to. Being a commercial fisherman/boat builder, it seemed there was always a bit of spare fishing net around. Don’t know why he first thought of it, but the extra fishing net made a really good “pick it up and get it out of the way to weed eat around it” fence around the beautiful, big raised bed organic garden. We had an incredible raspberry and strawberry patch…
Anyway, while I slept peacefully in the room on the back side of the house, our son had gone to bed and been woken up by the horrible screaming and thumping out in the yard outside his window. He was a really sound sleeper usually, but this woke him up from a dead sleep with his heart pounding. He looked out his second story window and could see a ruckus in the moonlight – a couple of big critters running through the yard. Our little dog, “Jumbo”, who was always up for a good chase, was going nuts running back and forth around whatever was in the garden. Then he yelped in pain.
Sounds pretty eery at that point. (Of course, neither his sisters nor I heard a thing). He went running downstairs and turned on the porch light to see what the big commotion was. There were two deer running around outside the fishnet fence, and a horrible noise coming from inside, with Jumbo barking frantically. Someone had forgotten to shut the gate. A baby deer, who did not listen to his mom and dad when they said to stay away from the human places, had gone into the garden to get some of the nice tender strawberries. He now had his head caught in the net and couldn’t get out.
Mommy and Daddy deer were trying to keep Jumbo from hurting their baby, but there was nothing they could do to get him out of the net. He was caught tight. If he hadn’t screamed, he was either gonna die there, or stay stuck for a good long time. But their baby hadn’t listened and he was now going to deal with the consequences of his really bad choice.
Our son went and got a big knife out of the kitchen, got a flashlight, and went and sat on the terrified little deer and cut him out of the net. The baby deer was unhurt and managed to scamper to safety, hopefully thinking more of listening to his parents and less of the taste of fresh strawberries. Maybe he learned something that night? Wonder what the conversation was like in his neck of the woods after that close call…..
So, as my wide-eyed son sat on my bed, I was overwhelmed not just at his quick thinking creativity in saving the baby deer, but with the faithfulness of God. Even if just for the moment, it didn’t need further explanation that sometimes we can’t get ourselves out of the messes we make. Sometimes we need to humble ourselves and ask for help. Crying out for someone bigger than us to come and save us from our foolishness and give us another chance is a great start.
God is not limited, like us parents are, at finding ways to make a point. Still think someday, I’ve got to find a way to turn this into a children’s book, at least for the children, and grandchildren of Sanctuary Lane.