EEEK!! This picture of a camouflaged leopard (hiding in the tall brown grass on the right side of the tree) gave me a flashback!
The year was 1973. One lovely spring day, I took my 2 year old son for a walk along the isolated gravel road we lived on. Our home was in southern Missouri at the time, in the Ozark Hills. Thick forests surrounded us on every side. The nearest neighbor lived about a mile away.
A small stream ran down the hill below the road. Thinking that he might enjoy playing near the water, I led my son through the trees to the bank of a shallow stream. As he was happily throwing rocks into the creek, I looked up — and there was a large panther, standing motionless on the other side of the narrow brook. The stealthy animal was almost close enough for me to reach out and touch, staring at us with eyes just like the leopard’s in this picture!
I was 20 years old then, and very naive in many ways. I did not know anything about panthers. But it was like a combination of protective mama bear and survival instincts took over. I tend to believe it was God…
Two thoughts immediately came to my mind: “Don’t feel any fear — animals sense fear and it triggers them to attack,” and “Don’t make any fast or sudden moves.”
In that moment, my emotions were completely shut down. I felt no fear, no feelings whatsoever. Without taking my eyes off the panther, I very slowly bent forward, picked up my little boy, and slowly lifted him over my head and sat him on my shoulders. Then I slowly, quietly, carefully, turned and walked away… slowly, slowly, slowly, one cautious step in front of another. I still felt no emotions at all.
I walked the 50 feet or more through the woods to the gravel road. Then, still moving just as slowly, with my son still riding on my shoulders, I walked the approximately 1/4 mile up a winding hilly curve to our house… I slowly crossed the wide front yard…. slowly climbed the steps… opened the door, walked in, shut and locked the door behind me, put my son down…. and collapsed on the floor.
I still don’t know how an “expert” would advise handling a situation like that. I have no idea if the typical panther would just stand there, moving nothing but a long twitching tail, if you were to take the same course of action. I only know what happened in my case.
Later that day, when I told someone what had happened, he thought I was crazy. “There ain’t no panthers around these parts,” he sneered. But a few days days later, a neighboring farmer who kept a herd of cattle in a field along the creek where I had seen the panther, found the remains of a calf that had been eaten by some kind of wild beast — with big cat tracks in the mud around the carcass.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving my son and me!
This afternoon I am going to see a surgeon and learn the results of a biopsy he took during a colonoscopy over a month ago. He is also going to assess an inflamed growth under my right arm that my general practitioner wants him to remove and biopsy.
I don’t wanna do this!! But I know that we are all going to leave this life, someday, in some fashion. Meanwhile, I hope I can use this trial to grow a little more spiritually.
Remembering things like my long-ago panther encounter, strengthens my faith. I do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and my Lord. As long as I am walking step by step with Him, seeking His will above all else in my life, I believe that I cannot die… not until my time has come. And then, WOW — what a glorious reunion with loved ones that will be!!!!!
God bless you, and thank you so much for stopping by. Here is a link to the terrific blog where I found this leopard picture. (I love bluebird and her blog.)