When Tommy Invited Me to Church

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Are you 20-feet closer to God here? Maybe not.

Contributing Writer
Steve Sorensen

Ever since I was little I’ve always attended church regularly—every Christmas and Easter unless we got snow. My buddy Randy was also regular in church, like almost every Sunday. Randy said I shouldn’t settle for being a C and E Christian.

Randy was persistent about inviting me to church. He said church is where people hear about Jesus and learn how to be more like him. Randy does seem more like Jesus than I do, and it gets a little tiresome.

It didn’t take me long to figure out whenever Randy invited me to church, I needed to have an excuse. My family never went anywhere, so that excuse was no good. My plans on Sunday were usually to sleep until noon, then feed the chickens. It was a weak excuse, but it was the only one I could think up with the two necessary qualifications. It had to be believable, and it had to apply to a Sunday.

For example, no one would believe I was going golfing, because I couldn’t afford a set of golf bats. And a doctor’s appointment would never apply to a Sunday. So sleeping in and feeding the chickens was the best I could do.

One day when Randy asked me to go to church, we were near Tommy’s locker and Tommy overheard us. I started faking a yawn so my excuse would seem more legit, and that gave Tommy the chance to take over our conversation.

“My church is in the woods,” Tommy announced. “I’m 20 feet closer to God when I’m up in my treestand. That’s my pew! Things get real quiet and spiritual up there.” Tommy was on a roll. “The rustling leaves make better music than a choir of angels. The woods are a cathedral, built by the Creator himself. Everything there is pure, and holy. And nobody puts you to sleep with a boring sermon. If you went to my church, the world would be a better place!”

I never heard a better sermon. Most kids didn’t like Tommy, but who knows? If everything in Tommy’s treestand is pure and holy, he’s probably a lot like Jesus. Attending Tommy’s church sounded wonderful. Tommy had given me something I could believe in, and I would accept his invitation! I’d go hunting, and I’d go to the best church in Rust County. Maybe the whole state! And maybe God would even send a big buck my way!

I knew right where Tommy’s church was because one day last year, in the first week of the gun season, the school bus stopped to pick up his little sister. The driver asked her if Tommy was coming, and she said, “No, he went hunting.” Just as the bus was pulling away I glanced toward the north corner of his dad’s pasture and got a glimpse of him sitting in his pew.

All I had to do was skip school one day during the first week of deer season, hike myself over to Tommy’s stand, and join him. I’d tell him how convincing his sermon was. The next thing you know, we’d be friends and fellow church goers. And maybe Randy would shut up about church.

To make it a surprise for Tommy, I arrived early. I could see him coming while it was still dark, trudging through the snow in the pasture behind the barn. He started climbing the ladder and when he got near the top, he put his hand on my boot. Boy, was he surprised!

And I was shocked! Here we were in Tommy’s church, and he started saying lots of words it’s probably illegal to say in church. He didn’t seem like a very spiritual member. He was making promises I hoped he’d never keep, promises I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t approve of. I decided to leave, but Tommy had the ladder blocked! Luckily, I had attached my emergency rope so I let myself down real quick and ran all the way home.

What did I learn? Use your safety rope. You never know when you’re gonna need it. I also decided to start going to church with Randy. What about the chickens? I feed them before church. And Tommy? He made those same promises to other kids, and one day he kept one of them. That’s why he went away to reform school. And he broke me from the idea that a treestand is 20 feet closer to God.

When “The Everyday Hunter” isn’t hunting, he’s thinking about hunting, talking about hunting, dreaming about hunting, writing about hunting, or wishing he were hunting. If you want to tell Steve exactly where your favorite hunting spot is, contact him through his website, www.EverydayHunter.com. He is a field contributor to Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, and won the 2015 and 2018 national “Pinnacle Award” for outdoor writing.