Every year about this time, thousands of eastern hunters head west on quests for elk, mule deer, and other western game species not found in these parts. They generally return in a week or two with either antlers and meat or stories about the ones that got away. One year, God willing, I will be among them.
Although I’ve never been on a western hunt, I’ve heard from several who have. Growing up in a taxidermy shop, you hear a lot of hunting stories, many of which have been enhanced.
Some more ambitious hunters do their homework via the internet, topographic maps, and past records and plan and conduct their own hunts on public lands. They take everything they need and do it all on their own. God bless them. Most, however, hire a guide to help them locate and get an opportunity at the animals of their ambitions.
Guides vary in price, experience, and services provided. Some are complete outfitters furnishing lodging, food, and guided hunts while others simply provide equipment and drop off. Because I don’t have the time, expertise or youthfulness to select and manage my own hunt, my future western safari will likely involve a professional who knows the area and the game. I’m also hoping he will be a good cook.
These guides are highly skilled and professionally trained and must meet certification requirements set by the state game commissions. While personality and aggressiveness vary, a guide’s livelihood depends on his reputation for successful hunts, so most will do their utmost to insure their clients achieve their goals.
The best guides know the territories they cover as well as the habits of each game specie. A wise guide would never knowingly place a client in a location that would be disappointing or unproductive, or even worse, in a situation that would result in serious injury.
Sometimes, however, they encourage tactics that may seem unusual and even counterproductive for eastern whitetail hunters. In such instances, it’s important for the client to trust the guide’s experience and wisdom. It would be foolish for the hunter to assume more knowledge than his guide and ignore or overrule the advice he gives. Such a scenario would likely result in failure at least and perhaps death at worst.
In a similar fashion, we need a guide in life. We need someone who knows the territory of our relationships, our jobs, our homes, and our situations. We need someone who is intimately familiar with our day to day choices and the consequences those choices will yield.
Thankfully, Jesus offers to be just such a guide. He makes no charge for His services but does expect our complete faith and trust. He is willing to lead us safely step by step through the forests of our daily lives knowing and showing the way for us. But it is up to us to follow Him closely.
Unfortunately, there are times when we think we know more than our Guide and decide to take our own path or follow our own hunches. While this strategy may yield temporary happiness, it always results in long term failure and disappointment. At times, Jesus’ commands even seem crazy and at odds with what we think would be best for us. Those are the very situations when we need to yield our will to His and continue to follow in His footsteps. Boundaries that we perceive as confining and stifling are actually there to protect us from harm and danger. We can ignore them and violate His directives but we do so to our own detriment.
Like the western hunting guides, Jesus has our best interests in mind and will not lead us into areas that will harm us eternally. In addition, He accompanies us into every situation or location He leads us into so we are never without His presence and protection. He values our personal growth as success and knows how to make that happen. Ultimately He wants us to be joyful and He will help us find that if we will faithfully follow Him.
As we ponder the western hunters and the guides who help them succeed, may they remind us of the Ultimate Guide who offers His services freely to all who will follow Him. And may we heed and obey His every command.
Following the Guide, George