The Buck: An Encounter with God

Author: Boise Bible College
Published on: February 12, 2019

Alumni Feature

Jen Call graduated from Boise Bible College in 2015 as a Worship Ministry major. She currently works full time as a project coordinator for a local digital marketing company and volunteers as a worship leader at Vineyard Boise. The following is a descriptive retelling of a series of “burning bush” moments that she shared with God while attending a women’s retreat. Jen shares a vulnerable glimpse into a season of spiritual dryness that is disrupted by the presence of God in nature.


I breathe in a deep breath and slowly let it release into the crisp morning air. Reluctant and sheepish, I begin to speak into the silence a prayer of thanksgiving. I admire the beauty that is before me: misty, dewy, dawn breaking, slowly revealing the woods several hundred yards in front of me. I acknowledge the hand of the Creator in this scenery. Contrite. I pause, allowing silence to envelope me again. As I stare at the trees, mixed emotions arise within me. Anticipation. Anxiety. Frustration.

“How long will you make me wait? How many times do I have to ask you to DO something or SAY something? Why can’t I feel you?”

The words taste bitter in my mouth; I exhale in a loud pout. Movement catches my attention – something entering the field out of the brush. A doe. Alone. Elegant. She doesn’t see me; I hold my breath. Eventually she makes her way across the field, walking towards my resting place. I can’t believe how close she is – can’t she smell me, if not see me? As soon as I think it, she comes to a sudden halt, eyes locked on mine. I’m spotted.

She jaunts a few steps away and then changes her mind. Slowly, she turns and looks at me again, sizing me up. Not a threat. The doe begins to graze and stays in the field for the next few moments. I remain stone-like in my stillness, not wanting her to leave too soon. But she runs off into the woods, and I’m left to my thoughts once again.

“Where are you? Why won’t you speak to me?”

The next time I return to my resting rock, I am filled to the brim with disappointment and anger. White-hot tears stream down my face and erratic, shallow breaths are the only sounds in the dark evening air.  Fuming, I can taste the bitterness in my mouth again.

“Why is it that everyone else can hear from you? Why do they get to have these vivid pictures and feelings from you, but I don’t get anything? Where are you?”

I try to regain control of my breathing. One long deep breath in, hold it . . . and release.  A few feet away, a couple raccoons mock my tears with their raucous fight over scraps of garbage.  I think about screaming at them or chasing them, but all I can muster is a pathetic, cat-like
hiss. They look in my direction. Not a threat. The raccoons continue their bickering as I cry again.

“There are so many things I haven’t forgiven myself for. In my mind, I know that you’ve already forgiven me. But I don’t know how to let go of this self-loathing.  I just need you to show me how. Do something! Say something! Please…”

I wipe away the tears and again try to regulate my breathing. It’s so dark that I can barely make out the tree line at the edge of the field. But movement catches my eye again. I squint my eyes to find the outline of a figure. Then I see it: a white tail. The doe. She turns and I can barely see her anymore. I hold my breath. A raccoon knocks over a trash can and she bolts away. I’m Alone. Again.

“Where are you? Why can’t I hear you?”

I sit there on the rock for a few moments more, pondering the doe. Twice in the same day and in the same spot, she’s appeared out of nowhere.  In moments of incredible doubt, she has come to me. Coincidence?

“Are you trying to tell me something? Are you speaking to me through this doe?”

As soon as I speak it aloud, doubt takes hold once more. No. Not me. I don’t deserve it. It’s a coincidence. After all, I’m in the doe’s field.

The first thing on my mind as I wake up is the doe. Will she come back this morning? I quickly shower and dress, rushing outside to my rock. It’s already later in the morning than the day before. I can feel doubt rising up.

“If you bring the doe, I’ll believe you were speaking to me yesterday. I’ll believe that you see me and hear me. Please, just let me see the doe again.”

Desperation overflows, consumes. Minutes pass and I search the tree line for any sign of movement. Nothing. Alone. Desperation turns to panic. Minutes pass. Panic turns to bitterness. Suddenly, I see movement! The tree line. I see something, but I can’t quite make out what it is… Disappointment. Too small to be the doe. A dog, maybe? It begins to run out on the field, and I realize it is a fox! I almost laugh out of surprise. I’ve never seen a fox up close before. It darts away into the brush, and as it disappears I am left with bitter disappointment once again. Alone.

“I knew it was too good to be true. Where are you? Why can’t I feel you? Why won’t you speak to me? I didn’t ask for a fox. All I wanted was a simple doe.”

Tears roll down as erratic breaths take over again. I have no control. To my left, I see a girl walking out onto the field. Defeat. Now the doe will never come.

“I give up. You don’t speak to me. I give up.”

I softly cry as the bitterness fills my mouth again. Somewhere behind me I hear footsteps. Someone on a morning jog, perhaps. Just another reason that the doe will never come. I take a few deep breaths and steady myself. I resolve to go back inside where it’s warm. Obviously nothing is going to happen this morning. The jogger’s steps seem very close now – and so loud! Almost booming…

“Who in the world jogs that loudly…?”

As soon as I say it, a mighty rushing force of wind sprints past me, blowing my hair and startling me nearly to death. I look over my shoulder as a large buck gallops past me.

My heart skips and my stomach drops. Every inch of my body shakes. I gasp for my breath and let out deep sobs that soon turn to laughter. The buck stops a hundred yards away from me and turns. Fierce. Our eyes meet and I feel him staring into my very soul.

“Oh God! Forgive me for doubting you. You are so good. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Thank you. Thank you!”

The buck stands there and stares at me for what feels like an eternity. Everything about him is regal, strong, intense. Eventually he turns and walks into the brush. This time, although he left me like the doe did before, I am not alone. I still feel his incredibly powerful presence. My heart racing, I stand and walk up the hill to the lodge.

“You were here all along. You’ve heard every word. You’ve seen every tear. I was never alone. I am never alone.”

“You were here all along. You’ve heard every word. You’ve seen every tear. I was never alone. I am never alone.”