Focusing On The Wrong Things
The old stump in front of me looked like a good place to sit down and sulk. I had hiked dozens of miles in the six days prior, traversing some very difficult terrain. We were nearing the end of elk season, and so far the elusive wapiti (native American name for elk) had whipped me good. I had several near encounters, even called two different elk in for my dad, but he missed them both. It was 11 am, and I only had one day of bow season left to hunt. My list of woes was growing, and my hopes of success felt as low as the canyon floor below me.
Yep, I can pout with the best of them, and the deep valleys of hunting seemed to bring that ugly side out in me. In my measly defense, I had worked hard, and had spent many hours hunting. The potential of being empty handed was disappointing, not to mention the look on my wife’s face if I showed up at home empty-handed. After being gone seven days, I had better bring back more than my stinky, nasty hunting clothes.
So, there I was, sitting on a stump a mile from my ATV. In the middle of my beloved elk country, I began a prayer of humility mixed with several helpings of irritation. The second I began my prayer to God, a deep conviction rang in my heart. It was as if God spiritually slapped me around a bit. You know, the kind of slapping done in movies to wake someone up from passing out. God seemed to lift my eyes to the world around me. I saw that my focus on the “negative” overwhelmed the blessings. My mind had abandoned the joy of hunting, and I had forgotten the blessing of hunting with my dad. I had taken for granted all the elk we did see, and the time around the campfire retelling old stories. I allowed my circumstances to rob me of my joy, and for that, my heart ached.
God, He is a loving God. He helped me recalibrate my sights. I looked up at the distant mountains and stood up with a renewed appreciation and focus. I took three steps from the stump and worked my way through some dense brush, making all kinds of noise. Instinctively, whenever I make lots of noise in the woods, I put my elk call in my mouth to imitate several elk calling to each other, attempting to cover my movement.
My ears perked up because just then I heard a noise, a very specific noise. The sound an antler makes when it hits a limb was followed up by several loud crashes coming toward me. Within seconds, as if from out of nowhere, a beautiful bull elk was making his way through the timber right to me. On autopilot, I drew my bow and let my arrow fly, executing a perfect shot. The elk bolted off, fatally hit, and I set my bow down in utter amazement. Literally in minutes, I went from giving up all together to harvesting a beautiful bull elk.
Regardless of my circumstances, God reminded me that He is in control. It was almost as if He needed me to learn to let go. I had to stop trying to control my circumstances, and I had to stop focusing on the wrong things. Whether I was successful in the hunt or not didn’t matter. True success was determined when I chose joy.
When I think about it now, I suspect God sent me that elk just to show off a little.