Once upon a time, I was terrified of a deer.
Yes, a deer, a precious little Bambi frolicking in the forest with bunnies and squirrels. And I was convinced it WAS GOING TO MURDER ME!
When I was a child, our family vacations consisted of cramming what seemed like everything we owned into the back of the truck and driving to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee. There were bicycles, flip-flops, coolers, sleeping bags, tents, bags of charcoal, and, of course the best part, popsicles! You know, those kinds that come in a box in liquid form that you can freeze, cut the plastic end off, and suck all the “juice” from? (If you’ve never heard of those, I’m truly sorry for your loss.)
So, off we went, looking like a redneck band of gypsies, but ready for a week of awesome fun for only $8 a night!!!
There is a stretch of road between Nashville and Pikeville that still makes my stomach churn and my heart race. Usually, Dad would drive the truck (which he could barely see out of because of all the stuff packed in there) pulling the camper, and Mom and us girls would ride in the van following him. I was always worried that the camper was going to somehow separate from the truck and come rolling backward right at us. (EVEN THOUGH my father was the most careful “fastener” known to man. I promise you there are things in my mother’s house that will forever be affixed to the wall because of the all the nails/screws/glue that was used.) Following the truck, I would tense up as we started up that steep hill, because you know that pulling the camper up the steel hill means there is more of a chance it will disengage and come crashing right into us! But every time, despite me holding my breath (or maybe because of it), we made it to the top unharmed.
One particular year, we camped with my cousin’s family. My sister and I had to contend with two boys, much rougher than us, for a whole week. While we had a blast going to the playground, riding bicycles, and hiking, there were a few times that were not so fun. And this was one of those. I call it… The Deer Incident.
Michael and I were playing in the woods, and I don’t really remember why now, but nevertheless, that’s where we were. Little did I know I was about to meet my doom. Suddenly, I saw it. Those eyes. The antlers. The bigger-than-a-bear body.
It was… a deer.
And I was TERRIFIED.
Now one would think that since my tougher-than-me cousin was there, he would don his superman cape and save the day. Not so with this one. Nope. What did my macho cousin do?
That boy got on his bicycle and rode away without even looking back!
And there I was, all alone, sure that this evil monster was about to have his dinner. (Ok, so I didn’t know that deer don’t eat little girls. Clearly, my education did not cover this aspect of wildlife. Not my fault!) I looked all around, frantic for a solution. Where could I go? Was there a way out? Desperate, I sought solace with the only option I had at the time…
The men’s bathroom.
Yeeeeees, it’s just a room with four walls and a door like every other room, but to a 10-year-old girl, going into the men’s bathroom was sinful! But what other choice did I have? I was not going to stand by and let this flesh-eating killer take me as his own! So I did it. I ran into that bathroom and slammed the door!
And I waited.
The windows were so high that I couldn’t see out, so I had no way of knowing when the coast was clear. So I just had to stand there, hoping against all hope that nobody felt the call of nature while I was in there.
Eventually, after what seemed like hours, I had to muster enough courage to at least peek around the door to see if it was safe. Surely that deer found some other unsuspecting human to munch on! Besides, it was getting dark and we all know it gets dark in the woods pretty quickly.
Slowly, I crept out, eyes darting, scanning the area carefully. Breathing a sigh of relief to find that I was alone, I ran to my bicycle as quickly as I could and high-tailed it out of there! Back to camp I went, only to find out later that Michael had been back for a while and hadn’t bothered to mention that I might have possibly lost my life to a wild animal in the wilderness!
Of course, I know now that my fears were completely unfounded. That deer had no more interest in me than I had in standing in the men’s bathroom for two hours. I saw him there, but he was not a threat to me.
Isn’t that how fear works? Things we see become much worse than they are, and pretty soon we’re frantically looking for a way out.
Yet we have this promise:
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalm 34:7 NIV)
Child of the Most High, you have no reason to fear today. The God of the universe calms all fears and protects you from all harm! Stop hiding in the bathroom and stand with confidence!
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