Living in the foothills of Colorado Springs gave our family the opportunity to see many wild animals as they wandered through our property. My favorite ones to observe were the female deer that brought their fawns and yearlings close to our patio door. They came to eat the rolled oats laced with molasses that we put out for them. This feeding supplemented their diet of pine needles and scrub oak leaves. Often there would be as many as eight or ten deer in the herd. They were at peace, and felt safe, sometimes lying down after they ate.
One fall afternoon the herd came again to eat. From my place at the window, I noticed one of the yearlings was limping. I saw that her back leg was broken and flapped loosely as she limped. This beautiful doe, with her spirit of gentleness, was in pain. Immediately, I called the Wildlife Department of Colorado for advice. The person that I spoke with asked, “Is she walking, or lying down, unable to walk?”
“She is limping along with the herd.” I responded.
The reply I received seemed rather heartless: “Just leave her alone, and the herd will protect her while she heals. After that, if she can’t keep up with them, it will put the whole herd in danger, and they will abandon her.”
I watched during the next couple of weeks as the herd come to eat and rest. Then I no longer saw any of them. But one morning the crippled doe came alone. As predicted, the herd had abandoned her. Now she was on high alert for danger, taking one bite, then looking up. Taking another bite and looking around again. There was no respite for the limping doe. I knew why she was nervous for I had seen evidence of a mountain lion that had been lying under the porch of my cabin. I saw the doe come two or three more times to eat – then never again.
Mulling over what I had observed with this beautiful animal, I knew in my heart what must have happened to her. Like the doe, there are many people who are hurting or spiritually
wounded. Some will come to church, but others will not. When grievous circumstances befall them, they may for a season, be surrounded by caring people. But after a while the caring may fall away, and they are left with no one. Sometimes depression will overcome them, and in their demeanor, they may appear to be un-loveable. “Limping,” they try to go on alone with no support, or they may drop out of sight. The apostle Peter warns of spiritual attacks on Christians: “Casting all your care upon him: for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” 1 Peter 5: 7-10 (KJV)
Sometimes a “wounded” person needs a hug, other times kind words, such as: “I’m praying for you.” Their burdens, and ours, will not seem so heavy when they are shared. We must encourage one another and know that we are not alone. 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Encourage one another and build each other up...” (NIV)