Bears, Alfalfa and … God?
Fall is here. It still feels like July was yesterday and now it’s almost October (when you’re reading this it will be, how time flies!). Fall is my favorite season for three reasons. Football, apple pie, and hunting. I know, pretty complicated right? The crisp, cool mornings, warm afternoons, then grabbing a jacket as the temperature outside tanks rather quickly in the evenings. Best time of year. September 24, 2015 marked a first for me in my “illustrious” hunting career. I harvested my first black bear. Man, what a hunt it was too. I was watching a field of standing corn, sitting in a corner so the wind would carry my scent away from where I figured the bears would come out of the treeline. Chipmunks and squirrels were moving all over the place, making my heart start racing only to find out it was one of those little rascals (if you’ve ever sat in the woods yourself you’ve probably noticed how a 2.5 oz chipmunk sounds like a 250 lb buck running through the leaves). As I was watching, I would turn around and look in the alfalfa field behind me (quite certain nothing would come that way). Most of the evening was uneventful, with the exception of the chipmunks running amok. At about 6:40p I turned around, just to ease my mind that nothing was there and there he was. 100 yards behind me, right where I figured he wouldn’t be. I sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds, just watching him mosey though the alfalfa, without a care in the world. I couldn’t believe it, here was a bear, wandering through an alfalfa field (and not the corn field I was expecting him to be in), only 100 yards off. When I came to my senses, I had to figure out how to turn 180 degrees so I was facing him, without making any noise. Once I was in position, I raised, pulled the trigger, and he went down. My first bear. I couldn’t believe that I had a bear down in the field. Why share this story? Because as I play those events over and over in my head, I think about how often we are sitting, waiting for God to show up, exactly where we think He should be, what time He should get there, etc. Many of us expect Him to show up on a Sunday morning, because, that’s His day. If we are honest, we give God a few hours on a Sunday morning to show up, prove He exists, grant us a request or two, then go back to wherever He goes during the week. But like this bear, what do we do when God shows up somewhere unexpected? Probably sit there dumbfounded for a few seconds wondering what He’s doing there instead of here, and why at this time? And it’s at that moment we are faced with a decision: Do we adjust our position so that we are lined up with where He is? Or do we cross our arms, upset that He would show up there, and not move? As I read through Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, it’s pretty apparent that God is not predictable. Nor does He like to be it seems. He is always found using ways and people that we, that I, would deem “unworthy” of the cause and use someone else, or something else. But that’s one of the many qualities that makes Him who He is. But with that said, we are still faced with that decision: what is our response to God showing up? We can either accept and realign ourselves with Him, or we can reject and wait for Him to adjust to us (hint: you’ll be waiting awhile). Because of our sin, our lives have been maligned and messed up. We have had no chance of a relationship with God whatsoever (He is holy, we are not). Then God showed up. He knew there was no other way for a relationship with us, as it once was in the Garden of Eden, and so He did something about it. He sent His own Son. And when He came, He came in a way that was unexpected and many did not want to adjust their positions to where He was. Others did. And they found life, true life. And 2,000 years later, nothing has changed. We, each one of us, is faced with a choice, to accept or reject Jesus Christ. He took all the charges we racked up throughout life thus far, and paid for them Himself, on the cross. He died that day. Paying for our sin once and for all. But He neglected to obey the natural law of things that are dead stay dead (I’m glad that bear stayed dead, because it would have gotten, as my friend Jamie says, “…pretty sporty.” real quick if he hadn’t), and rose again. We now have the opportunity to life, true life. A life full of joy and satisfaction (and it doesn’t come from stuff, it comes from Him). It’s been a heck of a ride thus far the past 10 years for my wife and I. We couldn’t have dreamed up anything close to what we’ve experienced so far. But that’s how He works, He brings us through things that are beyond our wildest imaginations, moments that are full of life (with its ups and downs, lefts and rights), and He leads us through where true, lasting joy (not just happiness) and true healing takes place. But don’t just take my word for it, there’s a life out there for you too. And it all begins with that choice.