Never in all these years of hunting have I missed so many shots. Near shots. Far shots. In between shots. No matter. I failed to fell a deer in ’09. At one point toward the end of our vacation I concluded it would take an animal coming right up to me and shaking my hand for me to hit one. I used to think I was a good shot. Not anymore.
One night toward the end I thought I finally broke through. At dusk we sighted two nice size bucks on the sky line of the ridge pictured here. I fired at the bigger one first. Missed again. What else is new? Then I got off a round at the second. Missed yet again. Sigh. This is getting monotonous. One more chance. I fired a second shot. Finally. He staggered and disappeared beyond the skyline. “He went down out of sight,” my friend Dick assured me.
We marked the shot and began our climb. This ridge is precipitous. The heart pumps hard as you zig zag up the fence line. Finally, we reached the spot on the hillside. Nothing. No blood trail, no deer. You’ve got to be kidding me! I worked my way up to the very top of the ridge, well beyond the scene of the shooting. Slowly I crisscrossed back and forth scouring every square foot. My friend did the same. When darkness enveloped the hillside, we gave up and headed back to the truck. Unbelievable.
We came back at dawn the next morning. The law of the woods says if you think you hit something, make sure you do the right thing in looking for it until you are absolutely sure you did or didn’t hit it. My friend, who has hunted these hills all his life, was certain I got the buck given the way he staggered. So we climbed again. We zigged and zagged again. In the full light of day we searched for that deer to no avail. The case of the missing deer. Beyond baffling. Go figure.
It occurred to me while looking just how much effort the two of us put into the search, all in the hope of finding an animal to butcher and eat along with another rack to nail to the rail on my deck. Not that the pursuit of venison for the freezer is insignificant, mind you. But it pales in comparison to the rewards that come from seeking God. And unlike the occasional deer on the hillside, God promises to be found.
Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “You will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Jeremiah 29:13 repeats virtually the same promise. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jesus said, in Matt. 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.”
Notice the proviso in these Old Testament verses. It concerns the way we must seek – with all our heart and soul. With at least the same, if not more vigor, that hunters seek after their felled quarry, believers should seek after God and His glory, banking all the way on His gracious promise to be found.
I asked myself some hard questions on that ridge. Do I seek God with the same energy I devote to finding a deer I might have shot? How earnest is my daily reading of the Scriptures? Does my zeal for Scripture memory match my passion for hunting? Where does my passionate pursuit of God in prayer compare to the enthusiasm with which I tackle an arduous climb up an Idaho hillside?
What do you value so greatly that you seek it with all your heart and all your soul? Don’t blow by this question. Stop and think about it for a time. Honestly, how do you answer?
With hunting or any other inferior pursuit, seek and you may or may not find. With God, your supreme satisfaction, seek with all your heart and soul and you will find.
Maybe the deer you hunted was one that was 'panting after GOD' more than you were passionate about searching the LORD with all your heart, and He gave that deer its prayer requests to have safety from that zany hunter from Florida, methinks…
Now why didn't I think of that?