One snowy day during deer-hunting season, Mr. Kulik went out with his rifle, three sandwiches and a Thermos.
He tramped through the woods until he came upon a well-used deer trail. The hunter looked around for a hiding place where he could keep a sharp lookout for deer. He found a sheltered nook in some rocks and settled in to wait.
After an hour, he became hungry and decided to have lunch. He had just finished two sandwiches and enjoyed a drink from his Thermos when he saw it: Less than 20 feet away was a magnificent eight-point buck. The closest cover for the deer was 30 yards away.
There was no way that Mr. Kulik could miss. He had been hunting for many years and had shot many deer, but he had never had a chance like this.
But Mr. Kulik didn’t move. He just sat there, waiting for the buck to realize that he was there and break for cover. If the deer had done that, then Mr. Kulik would probably have taken him down with one or two shots. However, the deer did not run.
That eight-point buck, who must surely have had to flee from any number of hunters, didn’t even offer to run when he became aware of the hunter. Instead, the deer began to slowly walk toward Mr. Kulik. Carefully, step by step, he moved closer, curious perhaps, until he was right in front of Mr. Kulik, looking steadily into his eyes.
Mr. Kulik didn’t know what to do, so he just reached out and scratched the buck’s head, between his antlers. The deer didn’t even flinch, so Mr. Kulik ran his hand over the buck’s side and flanks — he was petting a wild deer! The hunter proceeded to give his last sandwich to the deer, and the deer ate it. Soon the buck moved away and slowly continued down the path.
Mr. Kulik never shot another deer. After such an experience, he just couldn’t.
This story illustrates a powerful point. It can be very easy to hate an enemy from a distance. But once you are up close and interact with such a person, your mind and heart will change.
Jesus says to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
As you prepare yourself for Christmas, won’t you hear his message and obey? After all … this is part of the reason he was born.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.