Step Where I Step, Son

Learning to walk in the Spirit


I remember one morning about 5:30 AM.  Of course I was sound asleep.  Suddenly I felt someone tug my foot.  I was a bit startled.  It was my dad and he was talking in very low tones.  He said, “get up it’s almost daylight’.  Those squirrels will be jumping and we’ll miss the morning if we don’t get ready and get going.   It was pretty cold outside and when we stepped out of the house.  The warmth of the kitchen and our breathes seemed to create a cloud in front of us in the light of the doorway.  This was going to be my first hunt.  I was so excited.  My daddy had given me a little 410 shotgun.  He still had all the shells but I got to proudly carry my new gun.  As we made our way through the dusky dawn, we walked through the back lot and passed my cow Rose.  She was just standing there chewing her cud and seem to ignore us as we walked by.  We walked through our little garden patch behind the barn and finally arrived at the back fence.  My dad put one of his feet on the lower strand of the barbed wire and with his left hand held up the second strand making a small tunnel for me to go through.  Then as quick as a flash he was over the fence.  He immediately stopped and began to instruct me, “Now you have to be quiet”.  He said, “Step where I step son, do what I do, watch me, and imitate me and we’ll kill some squirrels.  


That morning all I could think of was stepping where dad stepped.  I remember watching his feet; my dad was like an Indian going through the woods.  He simply had grown up in the forest and had become a hunter by necessity.  During the great depression He learned that he could make as much money selling two squirrels in town as he could make plowing from sun up to sun down.  It seemed to be a no brainer to him.  He peddled and sold enough “Cloverine Salve” to buy a small single shot 22 caliber rifle and a box of fifty small shells called, shorts. 


His dad had become disabled in an accident with the railroad.  My grandfather cut and hewed switch ties for the railroad with an ax.  Somehow one had fallen on him and crushed him and consequently my dad became the bread winner of the family.  I asked him one time, “Who taught you to hunt so well”?  I expected him to say his dad but in fact my grandma “Lottie Sharp” had taught him. 


As we slipped through the woods the light of the early morning began to filter through the trees.  At one point my dad found an old tram road.  Trees hung over the road and  large spider webs moist with morning dew seemed to be everywhere.  Dad said, “Those spiders won’t hurt you son, they’re just garden spiders”.  I thought maybe they won’t hurt you but they seem to be able to make me hurt myself.  Finally it was light enough to see and the hunt was on. 


A couple of times my dad stopped and I was walking so close I ran in to him.  Finally he stopped and whispered, “Do you hear that squirrel chatting”?  I listened but I couldn’t really tell what the squirrel sounded like.  Birds were chirping, crows were cawing, and the trees were dripping with morning dew.  Dad said, “Give me your gun and let’s put a shell in it”.  Now we went from walking to slipping through the woods.  We were stalking the squirrel by the sound of his chatting.  The closer we got the more I could hear and discern his sound.  Finally, it seemed as though he was somewhere in the large beech tree right ahead of us.  Dad stopped and was intensely watching.  He turned to me and in a hushed tones said, “Look right up there, see that limb, he’s setting on that limb about halfway up”.  Dad was kneeling now and pointing.  “See him, there he is”.  Try as I might I blinked my eyes and looked as hard as I could but I couldn’t see the squirrel.  I was so afraid to disappoint my dad I told him I could see him.   He raised my gun up and rested the barrel across his shoulder while continuing to instruct me.  “Now hold it right on him and squeeze the trigger don’t jerk”.  I really didn’t know where the squirrel was but I wanted to please my dad.  So I took aim and killed a knot on the side of the tree.  Dad of course couldn’t believe what I had done.  The squirrel “limbed out” as dad called it.  He immediately scolded me for wasting ammunition.  He had come up the hard way and ammunition was very precious and important to the well being of the family.  So, you better not waste any ammo. 


Then we were moving again.  Dad led me to another spot and again pointed out the squirrel.  This time I wouldn’t agree that I saw the squirrel until I did.  It took awhile but finally I fired and down came a small cat squirrel.  I was thrilled.  Dad slipped the squirrel into my hunters jacket and we continued through the woods.  I didn’t care what happened after that.  I knew my dad was pleased with me and now I was a real hunter.  Later I found out that one hunt doesn’t qualify you as a hunter and developing dads’ skill level would be somewhat impossible for me. 


In studying the life of Jesus I found that he was deeply involved with his father.  He spoke what he heard his father speak.  He did what he saw his father do.  He was the imitation of his father.  Jesus said at one time if you have seen me you have seen the father. The words that I speak they are the father’s words.  The works that I’d do they are the fathers works.  Jesus was an earthly demonstration of a heavenly way.  Jesus was sent here to show us how to conduct our lives.  We must develop an eye for what the father does.  We must develop an ear for what the father says.  Jesus was our substitute and the blood sacrifice for our sins.  He laid down his life so that you and I could know the heavenly Father. 


One of his chief missions was to show man how to live in keen awareness and obedience to the unseen eternal realm of the “spirit”.  Developing this skill is paramount to fulfilling our destiny in Christ.  There is a mature sensitivity that we must develop. John called it following the unction of the Holy Ghost.  Jesus said the Holy Ghost would be our teacher and instruct us in all his ways.  However, learning to be Spirit led is a deliberate decision and a skill you develop.   And always remember God uses even our mess ups to instruct us mightily.  


I liken this “Spirit sensitivity” to learning how to perch fish.  We would dig up some earth worms, get our poles, and off to the pond we would go.  We then put a worm on a small hook and started fishing.  Perch love big juicy earthworms.  Sometimes I felt we were just feeding the fish.  Other times I felt I stayed hung up on logs and brush.  Often I had to put new string or hooks on.  But as time went by I learned the difference between bumping a log and feeling a perch tug.  Those little butterbean size perch always drove me crazy.  They were so small they were very hard to catch and they seemed experts at stealing my fat juicy worms.  But after years of practice my brothers and I would catch buckets of the little ones to serve as bate for our catfish lines. 


How do you learn to walk in the Spirit?  By yielding to what you sense.  What if I lose something along the way?  What if I make a mistake and tear up my spiritual tackle by jerking my hook into a log.  Fix your tackle; re-bate your hook, and then practice, practice, practice!!! We get better at what we practice.  And pretty soon you will know the difference in the voice of the Spirit and just a good idea.  The word says His sheep know his voice.  The sheep learn the voice of the shepherd by spending time with him.  If you are his sheep … You know his voice!!!


Just as I learned to follow my earthly dads’ example in hunting so the believer must learn the ways, works, and words of the heavenly Father.  My lack of skill didn’t keep me from pursuing my father.  My failures didn’t stop my mission to be like him.  Even so we cannot let failures or insecurity from a lack of skill keeps us from pressing on to know our Father.  Remember the fulfillment of your destiny in God is dependent upon your persistence not your perfection.  God is patient with the persistent.  God answers the persistent and seekers … do find.