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Keeping an attitude of gratitude

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By GUY SHEFFIELD

The December sun had begun its lazy plunge toward the western hills by the time my brother Heath and I parked along the gravel road snaking its way through the vast expanse of government woods. Gathering up our rifles, we jumped a ditch and plunged into the deep briar thickets that lined the forest’s edge. The thorns raked against our camouflage, announcing our arrival, and ruling out any slip we may have pulled on a buck.
Ten grueling minutes later we had still not broken into open woods. We stopped for a breather; our chests heaving, the crisp winter air stinging our lungs. Heath looked like a Ninja turtle with that big climbing stand strapped to his back, and I said as much. Steam was rising from his collar, and fire shot from the look he gave me. “Whose idea was it to try this place? It ain’t nothing but a briar patch,” he spat.
“At least we’re going down hill,” I countered.
“Yeah... Well that’s great Nimrod. What does that say for our trip back?”
I bristled and stomped off through the briars. “Just follow me,” I huffed, “You’re the one who don’t know where he’s going.”
As we proceeded the grade became steeper, and nearly as thick and ornery as our attitudes. Soon we found our path blocked by some fallen timber. As I paused to consider our path, Heath made a move to go around, intent on recovering his spot at point.
In desperation, I leaped up onto the fallen tree and scoffed, “What? You a sissy? Scared to climb over?” With that I inched out warily onto a decaying old branch.  “We’ll just tightrope this limb and then swing down into that little clearing below.”
Granted, it wasn’t much of a plan, but one might say I was already out on a limb. I reckon Heath had watched enough ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ to recognize a set up for the $10,000 clip when he saw it, so he shucked out a quick ‘double dog dare’ on me. I grit my teeth and inched forward.
“What am I doing,” I thought, “I’m going to kill myself! Unless…” Suddenly I had an idea. If I could break off this old limb we could use it as a bridge to cross over. Maybe there was a chance I could do it with hardly any aerial acrobatics.
I began hopping up and down on the old limb like a rabid monkey. The dry wood creaked and popped. Then came that rare moment when Heath would’ve traded his rifle in for a video camera. The limb snapped clean! It crashed to the ground just in time to cause another sharp stick to jut straight upward to await my dismount.
It might be said I stuck the landing of my routine; a perfect 10! In fact, I came within one literal inch of becoming a human shish kebob! I balanced on that stout little stick for one or two excruciatingly long seconds, suddenly grateful for that little bone running along my undercarriage which kept me from becoming impaled. The whole experience made my ensuing plop to the ground and head over heels tumble down the ridge seemed like a walk in the park. “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus,” I cried the whole way down. It was over the loud cackle of Heath’s laughter of course.
But anyway- There was a time in my life I might’ve cussed Heath, the limb, the tree and every other inanimate object out in the forest that day. But this time, in light of Scripture, I believe I actually did the right thing. (In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)
Taking a fall here and there is just part of living in a fallen world. Stuff happens. The best we can do is to just get back up and dust ourselves off with an attitude of gratitude. Why stay down? As Christians, we know we have the ultimate victory. All this is just temporary. Besides, things could always be worse. You could be dumb ole’ Heath still stuck up there in the briars! Hee hee hee… Who’s laughing now Ninja boy? See… there’s always a reason to give thanks.             
You can visit Guy at his website www.butanyway.org, or email him at guy.sheffield@butanyway.org.