I checked my clock for what seemed the one millionth time…3:55 a.m. I had set it to go off at 4 a.m. in case I over slept, but the very fact that I was going deer hunting assured a sleepless, vigilant night of clock watching! I turned the alarm off before it made a sound and slipped out of bed and into the bathroom, shutting the door behind me so as to not wake my sleeping bride. After getting dressed and brushing my teeth, I made my way downstairs to put on my boots, start my truck to get it warm, and pour myself a cup of coffee. It was going to be a great morning in the woods!
After the short drive to the place where I would be hunting this cold morning, I quietly got out of the truck, bow in hand, and slowly made my way to my stand about 50 yards into the woods. There was just enough light from the few visible stars to see my way to my spot, and once there, I quietly climbed the ladder, strapped myself in, and then hoisted my bow up the line. Now that I was in position, I settled in for the hour wait before the light slowly made its appearance. My mind raced at the numerous thoughts of what I might see! Would I have to wait long before a potential target made its appearance? Would I see anything at all? I prayed, trying to impress the Lord with my humble prayer, “Lord, thank you for the chance to come out here…and thank You for providing this opportunity for me to come out and enjoy the beauty of Your creation…and if it’s Your will, Lord, I sure would like to see something today…I sure would like it if You’d let me see something…Your will be done, in Jesus name, Amen.”
Even in my own mind I felt like I was trying to manipulate Him into having a deer walk out when the time came…like the way I worded it would impress Him and He would say, “Well, isn’t he just the most humble, appreciative little child I have out here today?” “You know my heart Lord”, I whispered in my mind…..”I want to see something for sure, but I pray You’ll help me be content either way…”
The landscape began to take shape and was slowly uncovered as the sun made its way over the distant horizon. I could slowly make out my shooting lanes and could see the different landmarks I used as distance markers. I could visualize every conceivable possibility and continued to quietly petition the Lord in my mind…”Show me something Lord…let me see something this morning.”
As I continued to scan the area for any movement, the song “As the Deer Panteth for the Water” began taking shape in my mind. I found myself hearing it over and over in my head, and I immediately turned this into a spiritual sign. “He’s going to show me something! I just know it!” The Lord was about to show me something, but it definitely was not what I was expected…but it was definitely what I needed.
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” The music in my head stopped, and now I was just hearing my own voice as I recounted this first verse from Psalm 42. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” Was I just reciting a verse now or was I stating a personal fact? The statement became more of a question in my mind, and it was then I realized the Lord was answering my prayer. He was showing me something–He was showing me what I counted as important in comparison to what He counted as important.
As I sat there in that moment, not even knowing if a deer was within a hundred miles of where I was, I was washed over with conviction…not because I was hunting, but because I could clearly see how much effort I had put into preparation for the hunt, but how so often I only halfway prepare for my time alone with the Lord and His Word. Then the words of Peter washed over me from 1 Peter 2:2, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” Did I desire my time in the Word as much as I desired to wake up hours before the sun came up, facing the bitter cold of winter air while hanging twenty feet above the ground with just a chance of seeing a deer more than I desired to wake up in the warmth of my home with the guarantee of having alone time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Was I giving the Lord the time He deserved and the time I so desperately needed in order to grow in respect to salvation? Would I let a sport or activity or television program or anything else get more devotion from me than the Lord? At that very moment, the Lord answered my prayer to “show me something.” He showed me where many of my personal priorities were out of sync with where they should be. He showed me there are many things in my life that occupy precious time which could be spent with Him, and how I have often chosen the lesser things over the greatest thing. He showed me the blessing of conviction.
Lord, thank You for loving me enough to show me these things, and may I let nothing take the place of Your time in my life! In Jesus’ name, Amen!