Deer In The Headlights

Written by: Steve Crowder

From his youth, Steve knew he was called into the ministry which ultimately led him to Applied Life Christian College in Arkansas. Now as Lead Pastor of Highway, after two decades of ministry experience, marriage and raising three kids, Steve teaches with unique insight and practical application.

February 29, 2024

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Earlier this month I had the joy of being a part of my oldest child’s marriage proposal down in Panama City Beach, Florida. Yeah, it definitely came with all the feels and celebrations, and his girlfriend was completely surprised when it happened. It couldn’t have gone any smoother, and now it looks like we will get to have a family wedding later this year! 

Well, earlier in the same week, we took a six hour drive up through Alabama to celebrate with our youngest as she turned twenty. Officially out of the teenage years now! We surprised her after her college class was out and then spent the rest of the day eating and shopping for her birthday. Being a small town with limited places to eat, we had to head down the backroads to find a Chinese restaurant for her big dinner. It didn’t take long before I realized that the winding highway was a popular grazing location for the local deer! We rounded a corner while simultaneously topping a hill and were startled by one as it quickly jumped from the side of the road as it came into view. Of all the things I could have yelled, somehow what came out was, “Oh…Deer!” which actually caused us to laugh due to my frequency of “dad” jokes I tend to say. Well, needless to say, I was much more hyper vigilant with bright lights on and less speed for the remainder of the evening. I also began to notice how many dead deer were laying along the sides of the road the next morning as we went to drop her back off at school. I’m guessing we were just lucky that the deer decided to jump away from the road instead of onto it in front of our vehicle! Or it was lucky…either way.

Both of these things made me take a different look at the same verse that Solomon wrote here in Proverbs. So often we are happy and full of gratitude when the “paths” we’re traveling on go smoothly in life…like the proposal. No hitch. No complications…just smooth sailing and good feelings. We thank God and feel like we must have done something right to earn such good graces. But in the same light, we so easily blame ourselves or begin to doubt God when something jumps out in front of us, either surprising us with its suddenness or the damage that it causes and leaves behind. I have actually hit a deer with a minivan as a young family man back when we lived in Arkansas years ago. That deer didn’t stand a chance against the “Silver Bullet”, which is what we had named our sporty Windstar, but we did have to deal with the damage it did to our car!

So what do we do…or better yet, what should we do when life dishes out to us frustration and disappointment? First, I would highly encourage you to find a safe place to talk it out with someone who you deeply trust. But, I would also encourage you not to blame the problem on God. Listen, we live in a depraved world that God is actively unfolding the greatest rescue story ever, to fully redeem and restore! It’s the story of Jesus, and there’s a best seller you can get to read all about it. But until that full restoration happens, we are warned by Jesus that we’ll face challenging situations while we journey through life…

John 16:33 CEV “I have told you this, so that you might have peace in your hearts because of me. While you are in the world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.”

Like I said, God is trying to make things right here, but something in Solomon’s verse caught my attention even more than the word, “trust”.  Why can we trust the Lord completely with our heart? It was the word towards the end of the verse:  “direct”. Too quickly we tend to say that something bad happened because God “directed” it to happen…but there’s a different meaning to the Hebrew word used here. A better understanding would translate this in our modern language to say, “and He will clear the road for you to follow.” See, we think it’s God putting the “deer” in the road causing us the damage, but in reality God is trying to clear the road in front of us to help us reach the destination! He is a good God…a good Father…a good friend who you can completely trust to help you through the toughest moments of life!

Let me leave you with this verse in John 10:10 recording something that Jesus taught: 

“A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so everyone would have life, and have it fully.”

His desire is that you will live a long and satisfying life, so seek His word and His wisdom to help clear the path in front of you.

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