Smokey The Bandit

The following series of devotionals are taken from Dr. Tim Miller’s book, Seasons of Reflection. You can find out more about Tim’s ministry and order the book by visiting

When I was a young man, I lived in southern Mississippi. The swamps of the Deep South were always filled with critters – including mosquitoes! I remember being unable to hunt several afternoons due to the hordes of mosquitoes trying to munch on my torso. It was miserable! I always looked forward to the approaching cooler weather when the mosquitoes would be elsewhere. During the winter, I would often set a trap line of several hundred traps. It wasn’t long before the fur began to pile up – coon, muskrat, nutria, mink, fox, coyote, and bobcat filled my wire stretchers. There’s nothing like a shed filled with fur.

This particular year, I would take my canoe and run about 50 sets in the swamp before checking another 150 land sets. I loved paddling along the sloughs observing the old Spanish moss hanging from massive cypress trees. While running my sets, my mind often drifted to an era when life was much more difficult – to a time when early trappers settled this difficult land. Did one of them actually trap this same line? What were their names? Did they ever get discouraged or tip over their canoe? My thoughts were interrupted as I paddled quietly around a bend in the slough. Wood ducks squealed in retreat as they headed for another secluded waterway and I couldn’t help but reflect on the reasons I loved the swamp.

As my canoe cut through the glazed surface of the water, I could see my intended destination – a large cypress. I had placed the trap between a cypress knee at the base of the tree and the tree itself. Coons were regularly walking between these two natural barriers. As I glided toward the set location, it was apparent a coon was in the trap. However, something looked strangely out of place. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The coon was smoking a cigarette! Yep, that’s right. I would have given anything to have my camera! As I neared the coon, it became apparent the coon was not actually smoking a cig. He had been chewing on the big cypress tree and a long white piece of bark was sticking out of his mouth. The early morning fog rising behind the animal looked exactly like smoke. I still wish I had my camera. It looked exactly like a cigarette. Even though my mind kept telling me, “coons don’t smoke,” – my eyes were telling me, “oh, yes, they do – I see em!” That day, I learned a lesson in life from that old coon. Things are not always as they appear to be.

Challenge: Do you make judgments concerning others simply from the way things appear to be? Are you quick to form opinions before you have all of the facts? There is always “another side of the coin.” Don’t be too quick to make judgments concerning others. Just because you think you see smoke doesn’t mean there is fire.

Thoughts: Sometimes professing Christians are the world’s worst at judging others.
We immediately believe what we hear instead of giving the accused an opportunity to share their side of the story. Sometimes, we need to ignore the story altogether.

“Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

Posted by Tim E. Miller

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