I met Heath Whitmore on a duck hunt when we were filming segments for a waterfowl series I host with Sportsman Channel. I wasn’t anticipating anything special. We all meet people every single day of our lives, and, it was 4:15 am in the morning. At that time of day, I’m not expecting much of anything from anybody, myself included.
I’ve noticed something about duck hunting. When the duck hunt slows down, the stories pick up. That’s one of my favorite ingredients of being in a duck hole: it seems you never leave the water without at least one good laugh and yet one more chapter added to your story.
I was sitting beside Heath, between him and his dad, Kirk, a man whom I hold in as dear regard as I do his son. They are men of true grit, farmers scratching out a life together in the Arkansas delta. Sitting between the Whitmore boys, and along side Bebo, a retriever who is a workaholic, Heath began to tell me his story of redemption, and redemption stories never, ever get old. When you hear a man talk about where he used to be, and where he is now, it's a story for all hunters to hear.
That was a year ago.
I went back to Arkansas to launch yet another season of Blind Insights. This time, there was anticipation. Not so much of just the hunts that were to follow, but more so because I was going to get to see my brothers who carry the name Whitmore.
The hunting was good. It is always good on the Whitmore place. I’ve come to realize that the Whitmore boys are spoiled, which is odd, because farmers rarely get spoiled; but, spoiled they are with ducks that seem to enjoy dying.
While sitting on a levee, yet again Heath Whitmore shared something about life that stuck in my bones. Farmers have that way about them. They know things. They ponder realities. They think through filters that are constructed from wire as seasoned as the soil they till.
We were talking about the odd reality of brotherhood, and how fast it happens when a man is right with his Maker.
Heath said, “You know, when I wasn’t a Jesus follower, I didn’t trust people, really. I was always looking out for what angle they might be working. It’s different now. I’m amazed at how fast God can seal brotherhood between men who are pursuing the heart of God.”
It’s true. I’ve noticed that very thing over the years myself. No, you cannot trust everyone. Yes, people are often going to take advantage of you. That’s life.
Yet, life in Christ is different, and it should be.
I’ve met many men in my ministry odyssey whereby you simply connect on a deep and fast level. I have come to believe that it is simply a supernatural way bound in the heart of God for those He loves.
I’ve known Heath Whitmore for about 12 months, but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we were kids who played whiffle ball together, survived college, and now have our own families complete with their own hunting stories.
It feels like Mr. Whitmore is a dad who got on to me for running in church, watched me grow up over the years, and fed us lunch because the whiffle ball game was over and we were starving. That’s how it feels. Roots seem to be there, but I certainly didn’t plant them, and neither my brother Heath, the farmer.
Life in Christ is different, and it should be. I believe it is our Father's way of giving us a touch of what family life is going to be like on the other side of the levee.
Jason Cruise is a published author and speaker. He is the host of Mossberg's Rugged American Hunter and the host of Spring Chronicles on Sportsman Channel.