We were parked about a half mile from the storm of ducks. Everyone went into covert mode. Earl led the way as we snaked along the levee. We followed in line. We dropped off the levee into the swamp, opposite the fields. We moved in formation, one man behind the other, in near silence. No words were spoken, only hand signals were used to indicate holes or logs to avoid as we waded through the knee deep water.
Earl emerged from the swamp into a sawgrass field and stopped. Frozen. Ducks were flying above him, circling as they approached the field. Lots of ducks. He moved forward slowly and we followed into the sawgrass. We crept on hands and knees, weapons in hand, slowly following the man in front of us.
As I crawled through the grass all I could see were Steven’s boots in front of me. When he moved, I moved. One step at a time. We crawled up the levee and now one at a time had to belly-slide across the mud and down into the irrigation ditch that ran parallel to the field. Man by man we slid across the mud into the ditch. Each man waiting a moment so when birds flew overhead we were still frozen. We moved in formation down into the water. When Earl moved right we moved right, when he moved left, we moved left.
The water was up to my armpits. Spilling over the edge of my waders as I moved through the ditch. I could feel water running into my boots, but I didn’t care. We moved silently through the ditch with our guns above our heads. We waded down about eighty yards. Earl turned around and pointed out a spot for each of us to lay up against the side of the ditch.
We couldn’t see them yet, but twenty yards from us were hundreds of ducks. We lay there deathly still. A group of pintail ducks flew over our heads, only about fifty feet above us. It was surreal. The air was thick with the sound of ducks quacking, dabbling, chuckling. They called to one another. It was straining my concept of reality. This was crazy! This was not normal! I slowly inched my head up until my eyes were able to see beyond the brush I was lying on. I could barely see above the brush line and into the field. All I could see were ducks, everywhere! This can’t possibly be real, I thought. I was speechless.
The notion of being able to get so close to nearly one thousand wild, migratory ducks is a duck hunters dream. It was not something we had thought was possible only hours before. A simple invitation changed everything. It’s one thing to pay to hunt on someone else’s land and experience the thrill of pursuit, but that often comes with restrictions and rules. You may encounter amazing opportunities, but if those opportunities fall outside what the land owner has allowed you to experience, then it’s tough luck. After three grueling hunts on Earl’s land we were honestly a bit frustrated. We had experienced some great opportunities that weekend, but just hadn’t quite been in the right spot. We had watched the larger groups of ducks landing just outside of the boundary lines which Earl had laid out for us. It was the last day of the season and we were not going to give up the chase until the sun had finally set.
However, when the land owner invites you to follow him, it means you’re about to experience something extraordinary. When you have the permission of the owner, and his guidance, the outcome is almost sure to be more than you can imagine.
Sometimes this is how a journey of faith looks. We receive an invitation but we don’t always know where the journey is going to take us. But when the invitation comes from the one who owns everything, all the previous boundary lines are erased, all the previous rules change. A simple invitation can change everything about your situation. That one moment can unlock a whole new future. It can lead to the future you’ve been dreaming about.
God has extended an invitation to each of us. It’s a simple invitation, but it can change everything. He is the one who owns everything. He presides over your life. He has set you up to accomplish something amazing and to make a difference in your world. He has given you talents and passions so that you have the foundational tools to accomplish that purpose and change someone else’s life for the better. All you have to do is say yes. Accept the invitation and follow the one who knows the way. God’s invitation always leads to a better life than the one you may be living today.
After lunch on that final afternoon when Earl pulled up beside us in his ATV and invited us to follow him we weren’t sure of exactly what we were about to do, but we knew it would be special. We laid against that ditch in the water for twenty minutes. Looking at each other in disbelief. I was in awe of where I found myself. It was amazing.
From that spot in the ditch that afternoon we harvested nineteen ducks from seven different species. It was incredible. It was a better experience than we could have ever imagined or hoped for. And it was all because we accepted the invitation from the one who knew where we needed to go and how to get there.
Have you considered the invitation that you’ve been given from God? He really does love you. And he really does have a plan for your life. You were made for impact. You were made to be significant. Accept his invitation and find what you’ve been searching for. It will be better than you can even imagine.