Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dad's lessons about hunting...and life: #3

Let the creation point you to the Creator...

I am convinced that God loves hunters and fishermen. After all, God put the universe’s two biggest bears and its biggest fish in the northern sky for all of us to see. (How's that for a trophy room?) And who but God would put the star that points us north in the constellation of the Bear, so that we who love His creation would find that He is the True North to which the stars point?

I don’t think these things are accidental. And I think most hunters and fishermen I know also know that. They know when they are outdoors, God is speaking to them through his creation. I remember years ago, when I was hunting at the Baptist campground where I shot one of the bucks that hangs on my church office wall. It was one of those perfect November mornings when everything is crisp and still. I was back home in Indiana, having flown up from Texas for Thanksgiving and the annual family deer hunt. The sun came up out of the east, and as rays of sunlight filtered through the trees, the woods started coming to life. A red-tailed hawk screamed overhead, squirrels were rustling in the leaves, and setting my heart racing as my mind thought “Was that a deer or a squirrel?” After a while a great blue heron swooped in and started fishing in the creek below my stand, totally oblivious to my presence. The fact that I got a deer later that day was just a bonus.

And I’m convinced that God has given us these sorts of experiences to remind us that He is seeking us. Those of you who know the stars know that God also put Orion, the Hunter, in the sky. And I think God put Orion there to remind us that like us, God is a hunter, and we are the quarry He is seeking. And He needs to seek us out, because the most fundamental truth about every human being in all the world is this: None of us are straight shooters, and so we all wound and break things we can't make right. Oh you might be a AA trap shooter, and qualify for the Olympic biathalon team, and be able to shoot prairie dogs at 1200 yards all day long with your .220 Laser Zapper, but from God’s perspective, you aren’t a straight shooter. At least not morally and spiritually speaking. In fact the Bible says this in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” To "fall short”is a term from archery that refers to not just missing the target, but deliberately shooting the wrong one on purpose. In other words, our sins aren’t just embarrassing or shameful, they are also all forms of deliberate rebellion against the God who made us.

Moreover, according to the Bible, when we sin we separate ourselves from God, and that brings death: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And boy, do we get paid. Death comes into every one of lives every time we sin. So we sin against our wives and kill our marriages, against our children and kill our families, against our buddies and kill our friendships, and against God and kill ourselves on the inside. Sin is the ultimate reason why the world is the way it is and why our bodies die. It’s also the reason why some people choose to live in rebellion against God their entire lives and to spend eternity separated from Him in Hell.

This is the reason why Dad taught me that the creation should lead us back to the Creator, for God is not only the Hunter who seeks us out; He is also the God who hung the Southern Cross in the sky so that we could follow the blood trail He has left all the way back to Him. If you ever get to the game fields of Africa, you can’t miss the Southern Cross in those skies. And as each person lives out his life on this planet, God intends for him not to miss the Cross of Calvary, because sin is a capital crime of treason against God and its penalty is death.

Yet the God who made all things (even the stars) point to Him, does so because He loves us and does not want us to die carrying the load of our sin all the way to death and hell. Through the Cross, God provides a substitute who bore our penalty and offers us new life. If you hunt every day of the season all the days of your life; if you claim all the best trophies from all the world’s game species; if you become the most renowned hunter in all the world and yet die without finding a relationship with the Creator to whom all the creation points through faith in Jesus Christ, your life will end as a tragedy, for you will have missed the most important quarry: an eternal loving relationship with God as your Father.

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