My Moment of Proof


It’s Easter weekend and we believers need no convincing. Many can point to an event in their lives and swear they witnessed a miracle. It doesn’t matter what skeptics might say or any evidence to the contrary, the moment is galvanized in the human brain and nothing can dislodge it.
In early August twelve years ago I lost my father-in-law to a rare neuromuscular disease called amyloidosis. He suffered with it for years as it continued to go undiagnosed. When doctors finally identified the problem it was too late, but even in the ten or so years he dealt with it he continued to enjoy the outdoors, particularly hunting.
Ezra (Jr.) Minney was an exceptional hunter who had great respect for the game he pursued, particularly the white-tailed deer. His casket was even adorned with deer paraphernalia. Though his hunting success tally was in the hundreds over his lifetime, he saved every antler, even pathetic spike horns. He kept all but the most impressive ones in boxes in the barn, where he would use pieces of them to fix knives and such. It was amazing how he could tell where each was bagged, what gun was used, and particulars of the hunt for all his and his wife’s mementos. Elloise Minney was a crack shot herself, maybe a better marksman than he.
In his last year the debilitating disease robbed him of any hunting activity, but he never tired of listening to or telling stories. My children sucked them up. As I watched him decline I never noticed he showed any bitterness of his situation. While he didn’t attend church regularly, he never lost faith that the Lord was with him. Anyone who knew him had no doubt he was a believer.
I’ve been a Christian and have accepted Jesus Christ for as long as I remember. I can’t really recall any one incident that made me believe, I just did. If I ever had any doubts, though, they surely would have been erased on that blistering hot day of Ezra’s funeral. It was about 95 degrees and the funeral home was about a ten mile drive from the cemetery. I needed a spiritual lift and the Lord provided it to me.
Anyone who knows anything at all about deer can tell you that they seldom are seen in the middle of the day standing out in the open in 95 degree weather. The scene was eerie. We had to have seen over forty deer, mostly large bucks, in that short stretch of road. Many were standing but a few feet from the pavement as we passed, and the spectacle wasn’t lost on a single member of the precession. For several minutes ‘did you see all those bucks?’ was all anyone could say.
I’ve never seen anything like that before or since, even under conditions favorable to seeing deer. Watching those majestic creatures stand there in reverence still gives me chills. Some might laugh at my story but I don’t care. It might not be comparable to bringing Lazarus back from the dead, healing the blind, feeding a huge mob with two fish and five loaves of bread, or any other miracles mentioned in the scriptures, but this was a miracle of sorts Jesus gave me. It sure helped ease the pain of losing one of the finest men I’ve ever met.

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

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About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com) and frequently publish articles in several other newspapers in northeastern North Carolina. I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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