Tonight I encountered a deer. No big deal you say? Read on.
I was walking Pippy along the Chagrin River for our nightly stroll through the village. Vendors were embarking on the cumbersome task of breaking down tents and displays that had taken up residency in the park next to the river for the past two days to celebrate Art By the Falls, an annual craft fair that draws massive crowds and rows upon rows of vendors. Tonight the event came to a close and all that was left were workers and their unsold goods, vans parked in the muddy used-to-be grass and the lingering scents of Carmel Corn and Funnel Cakes. It doesn't sound all that appealing when laid out in words, but there is something sweetly evocative about the closing moments of a summer fair.
During the excitement of the actual event, the work and labor that took place to get there, and the impending labor to get it all back home, are far from the minds of visitors. All they see are beautiful pieces of art work, jewelry crafted by talented hands and breathtaking photography. The air is filled with laughter and crowds meeting friends and enjoying the company of family. At the end of it all, as the crowds fade away, a calm and stillness settles over those that are left behind. It comes on quietly. It comes rolling in like a thick fog.
It is in this setting that my amazing encounter took place. Pippy and I had finished the walk through the park and started to climb the brick stairs that lead to the Chagrin Falls Public Library on Orange Street. As we reached the top of the stairs I looked straight across the street to the big, beautiful white church and there she was: a gorgeous deer standing in front of the church, practically on the sidewalk, and slowly moving in my direction. My walk came to an abrupt stop and so did hers. For a moment it was as if time stood still. We both just gazed at each other. I wonder what was crossing her mind. She didn't bolt and she didn't appear to be startled. For all the commotion that had only just ended, with the vendor's trucks and out of town visitors making their way through town, in those moments, not a car or person came by.
In those moments a distinct and clear thought came to the front of my mind like a message in a bottle on the shores of a great ocean. That deer was placed there for me. She was sent to tell me something: you are okay alone. I have never before seen a deer in Chagrin Falls, and certainly not on the side of one of the busiest streets in town, on one of the busiest weekends in town. When I saw her I immediately looked around her to see if she was traveling with a group or at least a friend. But she was all alone, sort of like me - although not even I was as alone as she was because I had Pippy. In those brief moments it seemed as if the whole world stopped turning so God could send me a message through his creation....
....."Don't worry when the world leaves you, when you feel like an island. You are not alone. I am here. I am always with you. You are just like the deer. She doesn't need the company of others like her to be content and complete. She is beautiful and majestic and yet, all alone. Don't you believe I care for you in the same way? ".....
It must have been 20 or 30 seconds before she began to walk again. She started towards the street, crossing on an angle to go up the hill on my side of the street. As she began to move I saw out of the corner of my eye a bright blue Prius heading up the hill at a quick clip. My eyes darted to the car and then back to the deer. My heart sank in my chest as an impending disaster seemed inevitable. The two would meet the same place in the road at the same moment unless divine intervention stepped in. The deer continued on her path and the car continued barreling towards her, apparently oblivious to the dangers that lay ahead.
I wanted to close my eyes but it all happened so fast. The car came speeding toward the deer and a split second before the two collided the car slammed on its brakes, as the deer narrowly escaped being struck head on. The deer's pace quickened and she made it across the road, darted down a small hill and away into a forest of trees. My eyes must have been bugging out of my head and my jaw must have been on the ground - or at least that is how it felt.
My deer! Me! That deer was a picture of me and she was almost killed (or badly hurt) in front of my very eyes.
Oh, how God knows how to teach his children. He told me he would take care of me, just like he takes care of the deer. That deer came so close to the edge of existence, so close to a fate that could have ended it all in the matter of seconds, yet God delivered her from evil and death. I wanted her to get across safely, with no threat of cars and no near death experience, but God had a different plan in store. The journey ended up being an eventful one, but he still protected her. It was a close call, but God got her across the street in the end without even a scratch.
...."Don't you believe I care for you in the same way?", he asked.
Yes. Yes, God cares for me even when I am alone, even when I endure hardship and even when it feels like danger and peril surround me. He is there. He is faithful. And he will get me to the other side.
All he asks of me is that I trust him.