The Time I Was Chased By A Mountain Lion…

You read that title correctly… let me explain:

We were on a family vacation last year. It had been a little over a year since I had sustained a serious head injury. I had spent that entire year and then some (and still some) working towards recovery from said injury. Head injuries affect all of you. It’s not like a broken arm or leg where the injury, although awful, is localized to a specific region of the body. It’s a journey of re-establishing how your brain works with the rest of you. Part of my recovery was getting back into running. I’ve always loved to run. I was restricted from doing so for several months, therefore every chance I got to run, I was going to run. The place where we vacationed is a beautiful and rural place. Lots of hills, trees, and a big lake. I went out for a mid-day run and was about 3 miles in… and then I saw it…

I was coming down a semi-flat stretch of road… recovering from a serious hill I had just ascended. I was trying to regain my wind… and as I was concentrating on the workout, something caught my eye. It was in the pine thicket just up ahead and down the road embankment. It couldn’t have been more than 25-30 feet off the road’s edge, but it was hidden within the cover of the edge of the woods. It was crouched down with it’s length parallel to the road. The color was unmistakable. In a moment, I was terrified. I knew if I turned around I was as much a goner as I would be if I kept going. I tried to figure out a way to fight it off when it pounced, but I had nothing with me. Runners don’t want to carry much. I was cussing myself for not grabbing one of those pepper sprays that could strap on to my hand. The irony went through my mind of the fact that I had endured a bad head trauma and come so far only to meet my demise right here… being mauled and eaten by one of nature’s most fearsome predators.

I was frozen in pace. The only thing keeping me going was pure adrenaline. I couldn’t have changed pace, stopped, or sped up if I wanted to. I was at the mercy of nothing but absolute terror.

Then… I came upon it… and I only glanced a little towards it. I didn’t want to make if feel threatened and thought that if I just kept going and kept to myself, I may survive. I guess it was kind of like that thing you do when you don’t look at others in the attempt to slip past them without them taking notice of you. I knew this was folly but it was the only thing I could think to do.

I came right along side of this monster… in my periphery, all I could tell was that it was huge and it ready to pounce.

I passed it… which scared me more… because now it was in my blind spot and it was behind me… just like a predator would want.

BOOM!

There it goes!

It came bursting out of the edge of the treeline and made straight for me! I became like a cartoon character and jumped involuntarily, running on thin air for a good distance. When My feet finally hit the ground, I was keeping pace with the Indy 500. I’m pretty sure I was going fast enough that I saw the beginnings of a wormhole developing in front of me… and then I glanced over my shoulder… I saw the horrible creature that had given me chase. It had stopped after about 20 feet. It sat there in the grass… just minding its own business.

It.

Was.

A.

Squirrel.

I stopped running and looked back at where the Cougar had waited and only then did I discover that it was a large rock that had the same color and shape as a Mountain Lion.

I checked my underpants to ensure that I was clean enough to continue my run and then chuckled at myself and continued on, heart still pounding.

Why tell this story?

Because many times in life, we treat completely harmless situations just like this due to our own paranoia and insecurities. Things are not usually nearly as dangerous or ominous as we make them out to be in our imaginations. People who struggle with insecurity or paranoia have a tendency to make much more out of situations than they warrant. Ever since my injury, my issues along these lines have magnified. But I have to remember that.

Most of the issues we see as predatory beasts are nothing but misunderstandings or bad assumptions. We would do well to stop and think through everything and compare it to what makes the most sense.

I hope this made you laugh a little, but I also hope it gives you something to think about.

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Image taken from: https://americanexpedition.us/learn-about-wildlife/mountain-lion-facts-trivia-information-and-photos/

“I AM SUPERIOR!”

So… here goes something else about myself that drives myself crazy… I know that was a weird and possibly incorrect way to word that statement, but I just decided I didn’t care. If you’ve ever had many conversations with me, you likely picked up on an annoying little quirk. I will nearly always find some way to make myself seem smarter or stronger than you or whomever we’re talking about. If you say you took Spanish in high school and could speak a little, I will probably find a way to tell you how I learned it by ear and become fairly conversant. If you tell me you like to run, I will somehow work in that I ran a marathon. I guess we call this “one-upsmanship,” because I’m always trying to “one-up” you. I’m the WORST about this in relation to Scripture and its interpretation…  Continue reading

God Doesn’t Love Me “Very Much…”

In my life, I’ve made many mistakes. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve not made as many mistakes as I’ve made terrible decisions. These were not decisions that were made without knowledge of consequence, but in spite of it. Decisions were made with self serving interests…sometimes to the detriment of someone else. I wish I could say that I made those decisions before becoming a Christian so as to be able to avoid the label of hypocrite. However, I think I’ve made more of them since being a Christian than I did before. Having said all of this, I’ve spent much time in stir over whether or not God could really love me. If He could…then how much could He possibly love me? I mean…let’s be honest…If he’s really a holy and perfect Being…He couldn’t love me a lot…especially since He would know my every thought…my every action…the deepest, darkest recesses of my heart and soul… Continue reading

Judgmental Jackass

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I know the title of this post is a bit jarring for some. It’s not intended to be anything short of how raw this is. The intention isn’t shock…but instead it is just being honest about something I’ve learned and feel strongly about. There’s this guy I know who’s had a history of being incredibly severe in his tone. He has hidden behind “just being real and/or honest,” as an excuse to say whatever he thinks about others or the world around him in general. He has done great damage to his relationships with this problem. Ironically, two things that he always claims to hate are judgmentalism and hypocrisy. Who is this person? Dare I call him out publicly? I think I should…although it won’t be an easy thing to do… Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Your Church…

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I don’t know how many other pastors struggle with this particular problem…and I sure haven’t heard any speak about it much. Perhaps it’s an understood problem and therefore a taboo thing to bring up…but I can’t help it. I think I need to expose a serious problem in my life…my heart…my soul…my ministry. I need to expose it because if I don’t, then like black mold that grows and reproduces in the darkness…it will simply become a problem larger than I can deal with. It will take over. It will rule my life and my ministry. So here goes: I am going to tell you what’s wrong with any church but my own. I’m going to explain to you why I believe all other churches aren’t good enough. I’m going to tell you why I don’t like your church…whether your the pastor or the pew-sitter. Continue reading

What People Think Of Me…

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I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with insecurity…and deeply connected with that concern is a fear of what others think of me. In recent months, I’ve written about some very serious social issues, but I’ve done so with a great deal of anxiety. The reason for my anxiety is that I don’t want to be dishonest about my beliefs or disrespectful to my faith while also not wanting to alienate those that don’t share the same view. I guess if I’m really and totally honest, my fear is that I would be lumped in with a particular segment in our culture that is seen as a very close-minded or even ignorant group. (I’m not saying they are close-minded or ignorant, but just that they are viewed that way.) So…what happens next is that I have a conversation with someone…or stand up to preach a sermon…or sit down to write an article…and then I begin to struggle through all of the possible outcomes to the various things I could say or write. This can be paralyzing to some people…people like me… Continue reading

I Am A Christian

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I meet people in all kinds of settings. A few days ago, I was in a situation in which I was in a waiting area. There was only one other person waiting there with me and she started a conversation. As we spoke, I quickly became aware that she was not a local. She eventually asked me where I was from, and I responded by telling her that I grew up just down the road. She then asked what I did for a living. I responded by saying, “I’m a pastor.” Her facial expression changed…and the conversation then went in an interesting direction… Continue reading