Guest Post By: Kyle Settle
One cannot look at nature without an overwhelming sense that God had a wonderful master plan for it all. God’s prevailing grace can often times be seen in our experiences in the outdoors. I know for me at least, even before I came to know and fully love God, I experienced moments where God’s grace was completely apparent to me. Even now, after giving myself to the Lord I can see his work every time I am afield.
With the opening of our rifle season, I decided it was time to go deeper into the mountains to hunt where I thought pressured deer would gravitate towards. I settled into a stand that rarely gets hunted and waited for the sun to come up. Even thought this was close to 5 years ago now; I can remember how beautiful the sunrise was that morning. Turkeys began to pitch off from their roosts and mill around the ridge to my right. I began to call back and forth to them in hopes of them staying around during the morning. No matter how much I called they seemed to just want to go the opposite direction. Weird, I thought. I was not that bad of a caller for them to be moving away without investigating the new intruder into their territory.The years after college were a stressful time in my life as I was a young Engineer that was driven to succeed and was honestly greedy for success. To this point hunting and a connection to nature had always been paramount in my life but due to work and social commitments I began to stray from an outdoors lifestyle. Until one morning when I had an experienced that snapped me back to reality.
After the turkeys moved off I focused my attention down into a thick hollow where deer liked to frequent. I caught a little bit of movement on top of an old downed tree and immediately realized that a Bobcat had snuck in on me while I was calling the turkeys. I raised my rifle and settled the crosshairs on the cat. The pressure from my finger on the trigger gently increased until the rifle recoil surprised me. The recoil made the scope jump from the cat and after settling the scope back onto the area where the Bobcat had been standing I saw nothing. Did I miss? A sinking feeling of dread filled me. I had never seen a Bobcat and now I missed one? I know this seem like something insignificant to put before God but I prayed that he show me a sign that I had harvested that beautiful Bobcat.
Three years later, I had a similar experience while hunting that not only strengthened my faith but drove me to fully give myself to God. My life was literally falling apart around me and I couldn’t see a way out so I did the only thing that helped to ease my anxiety and took to a treestand.
At this point in my life prayer wasn’t a part of my routine and I was distance from the Heavenly Father but the prayer still came to me anyway. A few minutes went by without any signs. I began watching a large fox squirrel as he carelessly bounced around the log where I had shot at the Bobcat. All of a sudden he alerted and began to bark at nothing. Was this a sign? I immediately climbed down and walked down to the spot. Lying in a small nook between the log and a tree was my Bobcat. God has answered my prayer and given me an experience that I will never forget. I was filled with that passion that I previously had for the outdoors and I believe God used that experience to recharge my spiritual batteries.
That November morning literally saved my life.
I began attending church regularly and found a home with Culpeper United Methodist Church. With my fiancé and my family by my side I was baptized and became a member of a wonderful congregation. I was sitting in that stand analyzing all the poor decisions I had made in the last few years and was fighting an endless void that I felt inside. At this point in my life I was so wrapped up in myself that I couldn’t accept grace. I can remember praying for these feelings to be gone because if I continued to harbor them I would lose my life. Literally moments after uttering those words to God, a small five point Buck materialized out of the brush and walked directly under the stand. I raised my muzzleloader and harvested him at less than 20 steps. At this moment I realized that all the heartache I had endured was over. God had given me a sign that I was worth saving and that he had plans for me. Even though I did not know it at the time, Jeremiah 29:11 describes this instance perfectly “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Without that experience on that cold November morning I would not have the life I have now.
A few weeks ago, I had an amazing experience while turkey hunting. I spotted a large Gobbler in an open field that seemed nearly impossible to approach without being seen. I began to stalk the bird and thought that this was an impossible feat. There was no way I could get to within 40 yards of that bird without being seen. I cut the distance to around 100 yards using the terrain and spotty tree cover. I was then able to cut the distance down to 40 yards without being seen. I raised my gun and settled my red dot on the birds waddled. I squeezed the trigger and had my final bird for the season down. To say this was a blessing is an understatement and I fully believe that God’s grace shown down on me that morning.
I began attending church regularly and found a home with Culpeper United Methodist Church. With my fiancé and my family by my side I was baptized and became a member of a wonderful congregation.