Growing up I had always considered myself to be a Christian. Unfortunately, that word or maybe just the meaning behind it has changed a lot for me over the years. Lately it sort of seems to take on a bit of a negative connotation in casual conversation.
I’ve met a lot of “Christmas and Easter Christians” that think a couple trips to church each year will buy them the salvation they are looking for.
In my younger days I spent way too many Saturday nights working at the bar and trying to convince the “Sunday Morning Only Christians” that they didn’t have to go home, but they couldn’t stay here.
I’ve met the “All Other Religions Are Wrong Christians” and the “Holier Than Thou Christians” that like nothing more than telling you how great they are at being religious and how much your ideas on life and salvation suck.
That level of hypocrisy has taught me not to lump myself in with the crowd.
I was born and raised a Presbyterian. I spent a lifetime of Sunday mornings at the same church, listening to the same hymns sung by a choir full of the same old men and woman. The sermons were always delivered by an old man who apparently thought the Pope was a fashionista and seemed to believe all of mankind was damned for eternity.
If we didn’t spend the rest of our lives repenting and drinking wine from the communal chalice it was only a matter of time until we’d burn in Hell…
I was lost and in need of a change. So I did what any good waterfowler would do…I decided to spend more time hunting and less time at church.
Being a Pennsylvania boy there is no hunting on Sundays so I “went to church” by scouting the river, building blinds, fixing decoys, talking to farmers, training my dog or breaking clays.
And so it was for several years…
There were countless sunrises and sunsets.
There were warm early season hunts and freezing cold late season hunts.
There were Wood Ducks, Teal, Black Ducks, Blue Bills, Mallards, Canada Geese, Snow Geese and even a lone Canvasback.
There were professionally guided hunts, hunts with good friends, hunts with strangers that would become good friends and hunts with friends that I’d eventually lose touch with.
All the while I was avoiding going to church.
Then a strange thing happened to me… I really started to believe in God.
I mean I had always thought that I believed in God, but after all those sunrises and sunsets, the Wood Ducks, Teal, Black Ducks, Blue Bills, Mallards, Canada Geese, Snow Geese and that lone Canvasback, the friends found and the friends lost…I really started to take it all in.
I found myself reflecting on hunting trips and smiling even though we had got skunked.
I started to treasure the time spent with my son and became painfully aware that the hour glass of time is constantly spilling it’s grains of sand.
I allowed myself to once again fondly remember my Chesapeake that had passed away instead of burying his memory down deep inside of me.
I started to value the friendships that I had made over the years and started to reach out to old hunting partners that I hadn’t spoken with in a while.
I began to really appreciate coming home to my wife and to our home after a day afield.
To me these Bible verses sum up my thoughts on getting outdoors and my general philosophy on life. Matthew 22: 37-39 state that in order to be a follower of Jesus “You must love the LORD with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind…and Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.
I’d like to challenge you to go spend a day in a duck blind with a couple good friends. Get there early enough that you can get the decoys set out and allow yourself just a little extra time to sit back and watch the sun rise, listen to the wind blowing through the leaves or the water rolling by. Then as you watch the dark of night open up into a world of color and the birds start moving let me know how this all “just sort of happened”?