He said that the only thing that he wanted for Father’s Day was for me to go shooting with him at the gun range.
You have to understand, I wasn’t raised around guns…as a matter of fact, I was raised with gunaphobia. I was the oldest of 3 sisters and a brother who we raised as a sister, and our environment consisted of baby dolls, Barbies, and dress up (the princess kind and not Disney princesses because there was too much witchcraft in those movies, but I digress). One of my fondest memories is my excitement when our mom allowed us one day to run around upstairs singing “GI Joe, the American Hero!!” at the top of our lungs (I think she convinced herself that it was kinda like supporting our military). That was the closest I ever got to even a toy gun. We were also Northerners in a Southern world and even though, I am convinced that, I should have been country from birth, girls just didn’t worry about that silly boy stuff. We had more important things to do…like our nails. So guns were rarely a given a thought…
David, on the other hand, he was raised in the South. Not only were guns a part of his normal existence, but he was the middle child of 5 brothers, so the interest in shooting things in that household was off the charts. David and his family shot guns as a way of stress relief… I know, right? I’m not even sure how that works since even the thought of holding one raises my blood pressure twenty points. So for David, not only was it perfectly normal to own a gun, it was a necessity to have several different options.
This weekend when he cornered me with his “all I want for Father’s Day” speech, I was done for. I had avoided pulling the trigger on a weapon for almost 35 years, but all he had to do was use that one simple sentence to blow away my resistance. I agreed to go to the range.
Our Saturday was completely full of birthday parties, haircuts, and kid centered errands. I hadn’t REALLY meant to be gone until the end of the day, but when I pulled up in the driveway at 5:15pm (45 minutes before the range closes), it was with dread in my heart that David would be upset and the same amount of relief that I was no longer under the gun (hahaha). David agreed that it was too late to go to the range and was very gracious about it, and I was okay with a small amount of guilt with ruining Father’s Day because after all, it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t help it that Nathan needed a haircut and insisted on getting his Dad a cake…or that Kate and Naomi had a birthday party to attend… or that the gun range closed at 6pm. Whew, I had avoided it once again.
Or so I thought. I had no idea that the gun range was open on Sunday. I mean, stores can’t sell alcohol, Chickfila is closed, and most God fearing Southerners are at church all day…why would the gun range be open? Not only that but between church service and Sunday school, I had managed to frustrate my husband beyond reason…and even though it was completely unintentional, the tension was thick even throughout our “celebratory” lunch. I had not only ruined Father’s Day, I had annihilated it.
So it shouldn’t be any surprise to me that as I laid down for my beloved, very rarely missed Sunday afternoon nap, that I had no peace, and no ability to fall asleep despite a developing headache and more than enough exhaustion. David had taken off for the gun range after we arrived home with barely 3 sentences. I had hurt him. I had frustrated him. And what’s more, I had no ability to fix it. So after he left, I laid sleeplessly in prayer asking the Lord to help me make it right. What could I do to show my love for David?
You know, God is really quick with a response when you really want to do the right thing…when you are really asking in all seriousness for Him to help you love someone. I knew in a flash what I needed to do. I jumped out of bed, threw my shoes on, and headed out to the living room. Since the girls were napping, I told the older kids that I was leaving my cell phone home for them and going to the gun range to meet Dad. The boys had been there once so I asked them for directions and then headed out the door (What? Kids can give directions too).
Y’all sometimes I do really stupid things with really good intentions. When I got into my car and headed out into Albany plantation land, I realized that not only did I not know exactly where I was going, but that I also left my “I got lost” backup plan at home…my phone. I was headed somewhere I had never been, in the middle of nowhere, by myself, with no phone…but I had a gun and if you ask my husband that solves everything. It was me and Jesus and after driving several miles, I knew that I was gonna need Jesus.
When I say middle of nowhere, I am talking a two lane road with no shoulder, no driveways…only oaks, swamps, and crickets. I drove for miles and was convinced that I had passed the place, so I found a bridge with a shoulder and turned around. As I recovered the ground on the way back, I saw a rare dirt road with a plantation sign on it. Hmmm, I bet a plantation is big enough for a gun range…maybe that’s it. I followed this mud road for probably 5 miles with no signs of life…oh, except I did see a deer in the woods. I had all my windows down and would slow to a crawl sometimes to see if I could hear gunfire (isn’t that how everyone looks for a gun range?) As I was driving, I was vacillating between wondering how many bodies had been dumped in these woods (after all, Albany was the murder capital of the US in 1988) and praying. “Lord, I have no idea where I am or where I am going. I feel like you asked me to do this and I desire to love and please my husband. I need your help. Can you show me the way? Where is this place?”
And yes, I know… you think I am crazy for asking the Holy Spirit for directions to a gun range. You know how I know that you think I’m crazy? Because I thought I was crazy. As a matter of fact, I was beginning to think the whole thing was a bit crazy. That laugh was starting to boil up in me… you know the one that comes out when you are feeling particularly insane. I wanted to stop the car and turn around… I had no idea where that dirt road was taking me. I could have been driving straight to a crack warehouse for all I knew, but for some reason, I couldn’t make myself turn around. I just kept thinking, “but it might be right up here…”
Finally the dirt road ended. It dumped out right onto the road that I had turned off of to get on it. Basically, I had driven a semi circle and was now further from home than I had been when I turned around the first time. But across this main road, the dirt road continued. Continue or give up and go home? “Lord, I’m done. I’m going home.” And as I made the left hand turn, I saw the sign on the continuation of that dirt road. “Shooting Range” What?? Of course it was…and as I followed the two lane road with no shoulder to find a place to turn around, I ended up turning around at the exact same bridge that I had turned around on the first time when I was convinced I had come too far. If I had just stayed on that road a little bit longer, I would have seen the sign thirty minutes earlier, but I would have never seen the power of Christ to guide me no matter where I am.
I know it sounds like I am overly spiritualizing something, but I am being completely honest when I say that the Holy Spirit, Himself, led me to the range. He knows EVERYTHING and He gives great directions when you finally give into the crazy and ask Him. Who needs an iPhone when you have the Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead inside of you? I continue to be amazed at how He helps us in the littlest things.
As for the gun range, it was more than I had expected. I mean, I knew I was anxiety girl, but there is just something innate in me that wants to run for cover at the sound of a gunshot. Some guy was shooting a gun that literally had the shock of a small bomb going off. Every time he shot it, my heart felt like jello inside. David made me shoot some psycho huge gun to take my first couple of shots ever. Then he taught me how to use my pistol that I keep handy for intruders while he is gone. I may or may not have hit the target…but I wouldn’t suggest trying me… I am at least really scary with the thing.
And Father’s Day…well, it was salvaged on the range, just like the Lord promised it would be. Our Father, His specialty is redemption.