If you missed the beginning of Jeff's story:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Six hours ago I had taken what was supposed to be a perfect scenario shot on my elk. Something went wrong and I had therefore been tracking her this entire time. I had experienced the entire gamut of emotions over this time and I was becoming frazzled.  In the back of my mind I was beginning to realize I had been hiking for an entire day with little regard for where I was, but determined to stay on the trail of my elk.  I had already gotten close enough to where she was lying down twice and I could hear her get up and run again as I approached.  That is when I lost her trail again. For the next hour and a half I looked for the next step she took. About three in the afternoon I sat down on the mountain crushed. I experienced a desperate lonely place rare to my heart as I realized I wasn’t going to find my elk and I wasn’t sure where I was.  I had no communication with my hunting buddies since before the sun rose that day and it was getting ready to set in the next hour and a half—and I failed as a hunter.

I found my way back to the truck just as darkness set in thankfully, but that proved to be much easier then finding my way out of the dark place my heart was feeling.  I lost the trail, I failed as a hunter, and I injured a beautiful animal that I didn’t get to take the meat home from.  This darkness took a couple days for me to even find a trail out of.  I felt during the entire day I was heading toward my elk and learning great insights about God along the way—and now I questioned how valid those insights were since I had failed with my hunting experience. 

I sat watching the sunset a few days later still contemplating the entire ordeal.  I struggled with how valid my insights were and therefore stripping me of any value I received from my failed hunt. During this sunset God revealed a great understanding. When we lose His trail on our journey we find ourselves in a devastatingly lonely place. We so often look for other things in life to distract us from that devastation—but it is only being on His trail that truly satisfies us. The major difference between God and my elk is that God wants us to find His trail and my elk was doing everything she could to keep me from finding her trail.

So in my failed attempt to stay on my elk’s trail, I found my way on God’s trail. Thus beginning the next step in my journey while I try to figure out if my hunting trip was a failure or a success. My challenge—and possibly yours—is if I really believe that man does not live on elk alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

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

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