Every hunter I know has done it. Same goes with every fisherman I know. We’ve all found ourselves in the midst of a tough pursuit, a slow hunt, or a long day on the water without anything to show for our efforts. That’s when we start to pray. For me it usually seems to happen more when I’m deer hunting. It usually happens after a couple hours have gone by and I’m beginning to despise the squirrels. The squirrels always seem to know when my attention is starting to drift. After you’ve been sitting, hoping, and waiting and nothing is happening; any movement will cause your day dreams to come to a screeching halt. Squirrels have been fooling deer hunters since the dawn of time. It can be maddening.
This was my reality one cold January morning. I had been sitting over a field for the better part of three hours. The refreshing crisp in the morning air had worn off and the beauty of the sunrise had faded. I stared out of the box over the field trying to somehow will a deer into the field, as if my thoughts would magically change the situation. I know I’m not the only one who does this… let’s be honest.
Part of my routine when sitting in the field on a hunt is to spend a few moments in prayer. It helps my soul when I take a few minutes just to say “Thank you” to the creator for allowing me to experience His creation this way. Somehow I always feel a little closer to God when I’m surrounded by nature, out among the animals and the trees.
On this particular morning it appeared that all of nature had slept in. Over the three hours I’d been sitting there I had seen no signs of life. Not even the squirrels were out to deceive me. It was simply stone-cold silence, and it was deafening.
I bowed my head and thanked God for the morning. I thanked Him for the opportunity to hunt and experience creation. I thanked Him for my family, my wife and my kids. I asked Him to bless my day and my work. I thanked Him for loving me no matter how many times I make a mistake. As I was finishing my prayer I added one simple request.
“Dear God, please bring a deer into this field. Let me see something. Give me an opportunity to harvest today. Amen”
I’ll admit it seemed selfish and a little ridiculous to ask this. After all, this was God I was talking to. He created the planets and the stars and here I was asking him to lead an animal out in front of me so that I might have an opportunity to subdue it and put some meat in the freezer. But the Bible says that when we pray God hears our prayers so it was worth a shot, right?
As I finished the prayer I opened my eyes and raised my head. Then I saw it. Seventy-five yards from me was a deer. It had undoubtedly walked into the field as I was praying. I blinked twice to make sure I wasn’t in some fantasy day dream. It was still there. God had heard my prayer. I reached for the gun so I could get a look through the scope. I cracked a smile as I did, thinking about the prayer I had just prayed moments earlier.
“God, you are a good God”, I thought to myself.
As I pulled up the rifle and rested it in the window of the shooting house I leaned in to look. As I focused the scope I tried to set my breathing for the shot. Suddenly my heart sank. The deer in my sights was a spike. A young buck not even legal to shoot. I exhaled slowly and looked up from the scope. A smile crept across my face and I began to laugh.
“I should have been more specific!” I thought. “I should have clarified my request.”
In our lives as men we are pursuing things of far greater importance than wildlife or fish. Maybe you’re trying to be a good husband or a better father. Maybe you’re chasing a dream or a career. Maybe you’re simply trying to make it to the end of the month before the money runs out. No matter what you are pursuing my question is this: Have you been specific in the outcome you are trying to achieve, or are you simply operating on a good intention?
It’s not enough to simply desire to be a good husband or a good father. It’s not enough to simply have a dream or career goals. And it’s definitely not enough to simply hope you have enough money to get you through until the next paycheck. If you really want to be a man who matters, a man who is significant and who makes an impact, you’ve got to be specific.
Maybe it’s time to redefine your pursuit. Instead of simply having the desire to be a good husband, maybe you need to decide today what a good husband looks like so that you have something to shoot for. Instead of simply wanting to be good fathers we need to stop and define what that looks like so we can know if we are making any headway. If you have a dream to one day be great, have you actually painted a picture in your mind of the steps you need to take to get there? If you find yourself consistently living paycheck to paycheck maybe it’s time to make some tough calls, put together a budget, and start telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it all went each month.
No matter where you find yourself today I can assure you that if you aren’t being specific in laying out what you are chasing, and how you plan on succeeding, you will most likely end up with only a partial victory in the end. You will likely end up with a result that may have some of the characteristics you were hoping for, but really won’t be worth anything.
Make today the day you redefine what you are chasing. Be specific in your pursuit. Ask God to help you. If He would hear my silly prayer about a deer on that cold January morning He will surely hear your prayers and help you be a man who impacts your family. He loves you. He created you for greatness. He designed you for impact. And He wants your life to be significant.