“It’s not whether you win or lose…”
This week’s blog is written by my good friend, Matt Roberson. I have had the joy of taking Matt elk hunting a couple of times in the past several years. We have enjoyed some great times in the woods talking life and getting very close to elk. He hasn’t been successful yet, but one day it will happen, Lord willing. Love ya Matt and thanks for this great post. – Brandon
I was a high school stand out athlete in several sports. I had even played a little bit of baseball in my college years. I had a high IQ for figuring out the rules of a game, and winning…well, that was my only option. But now, I am 36 years old, I am in the deep woods of Northern Idaho, hunting for elk with a bow. I’m standing on the side of a hill behind an old hollowed out tree that’s been burned from a massive forest fire. It’s not too cold, but the coolness of the air makes my rapid breathing visible in my surroundings. Heart is pumping much like it did every time I stepped to the plate to hit a fastball. I am waiting on an animal five times my size to become visible as my hunting partner draws him in. This isn’t a game, and winning looks very different here. In fact, winning has many faces.
For some, winning is simply being outside, connecting to God through nature. Some simply like the smell of the cold mountain air in the sunrise of the early morning. They like the naps out in the woods after the long hike in and out of a good hunting hole. Even in what they eat, they like dried fruit, dehydrated meat, and gallons of water. For some, winning is simply being on the hunting trip, the path, if you will.
For this Chicago raised, baseball playing, sport loving, competitive type, being on the path just wasn’t enough. For me, winning meant harvesting an animal. I need the meat in my freezer and the horns on my wall before I call it winning. Interestingly enough, I’ve been elk hunting three times now, and have never harvested an animal. By my own definition of winning, I have a losing record. I have often beaten myself up for the many opportunities that I have blown while on the hunt. There are several times that I have had a chance to “win” and I simply missed my chance…I lost. Or did I?
Throughout my experiences on those mountains, the miles of hikes, the sleepless nights, the missteps, missed opportunities, what did I gain? I lost by my standard, but won by someone else’s. I learned thought processes of the animals. I learned how to call them in. I learned the lay of the terrain, and what to look for in an ideal hunting setup. I learned what lanes to look for, what times are best, and about the lack of curiosity in an animal making them one of the most elusive, difficult animals to hunt in the US. Most of all, I gained a valuable relationship with my buddy that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life…I wasn’t alone through all of this. We were together. I didn’t lose. I won.
For some, winning when it comes to a life with Jesus simply means being on the path. Going to church, attending a bible study, or even a small group – the formality of being “on the path” is winning. For others, winning means how many conversions I can measure, how many people are saved because of a mission trip overseas I attended, or how many people came to our services on Sunday morning. There’s value in all of these things, but according to God’s design for us, winning is found in the actual relationships we build through these experiences. It is in those relationships, through the hard conversations, the failures and frailties that we grow into the men and women God created us to be. At times it feels as if we’re losing by our own standard, but keep watch. You could very well be winning by someone else’s.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT