Elk hunting this year was an amazing opportunity to learn from God.  It was one of the toughest years for me as far as hunting went, but an amazing year for me as far as the spiritual retreat hunting has become.  I went through some pretty rough times this year, which lead to me hearing a great deal from God about how to follow Him.

The first lesson I learned had to do with who is influencing your decisions the most. We were hiking into this canyon and I saw a drainage off to the right and it felt perfect for hunting that day.  We were only ¾ of a mile from our truck, so my hunting partners all wanted to go further into the canyon.  When I hunt, I spend a great deal of time asking God to direct me to the spot He wants me—cause let’s be honest, I’m not a good enough hunter to figure this out.  I’d rather have God tell me where to go and leave the results to Him.  This drainage seemed to be that place God was telling me to go, but no one else seemed to think it was a very good spot to hunt.  Naturally then—I ignored God and moved on with my hunting buddies.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”--Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

As I walked on in complete denial of what my heart was telling me about where to hunt, I was struck by this verse.  I couldn’t stop thinking that with each step I took I was getting further from where I was supposed to be— I was following my ways and not God’s.  Our group stopped to discuss where to go and I told them I was going back to where I originally felt I was drawn.  As I hiked back I began to feel better about listening and obeying what I felt God was putting on my heart.

No more then 3 minutes after I left my group, my eye was caught by movement to my right about half way up the hill side.  I stopped and looked intently as my heart began to race with adrenaline filling my veins as I searched for the tan/yellow color of the elk to stand out against the natural setting of greens and browns from the foliage.  There it was—two bull elks right above me and my heart leapt.  Not because I could shoot them—I had a cow tag so I couldn’t shoot a bull—but because I felt confirmed to be in the right place.

I then moved into a position behind some bushes to watch the hillsides where my heart was compelled to be that day and I began to pray for God to bless me with a cow elk crossing my path.  No more then 10 minutes after sitting down and beginning to pray was that prayer answered.  As I sat on the ground meticulously placing my crosshairs behind the shoulder of this elk I was thanking God for speaking to me.

This helped me to learn a great lesson.  God will give us direction for our lives—but it won’t always lead us to the same place as the entire group we are traveling with.  They may not be called to go where we are called to go and that is why it is so important for us to listen to where God is calling us to travel.  When we ask our kids to DISCOVER God’s voice, we must teach them His voice is more important then their friends’ voices when determining the path they are intended to take. Because His ways are not our ways but they are always the best way.

By: Jeff Neel, Director of The Farm, Greeley, CO

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