Tag Archives: purpose

harvey the elk…

I grew up with a father who hunted.  In fact, I am sure that some years, we only ate well because he hunted.  The fall season for my family was built around the times that he would be gone with his uncles and friends.  My mom and I (and eventually my sister too) would sit at home and wonder where exactly Daddy was, what he was doing, and if he was safe.

While I am sure the men enjoyed the time they spent on the mountain the most, I waited with great anticipation for the day they would arrive home.  The family would gather, the spoils of the hunt would be hung in the garage, and we would spend hours working together to butcher and package the meat. The smell that collected in the air was an intermingling of odors from hunters and the hunted. As we worked, each of the men would recall their moment of glory from the adventure.  We would hear about time spent around the campfire, long hikes up a ravine, and the eventual story of “the kill.”

The purpose of the hunt was always the same; to gather the food we all needed for the coming year.  The only thing that changed much was that as I got older, I was given more responsibility during the butchering, and even my own knife to help with the trimming.  However, one year, my dad had his eye on a larger prize than just feeding his family.  He had been scouting a majestic elk in the forest for several months.  While Daddy had never been a trophy hunter, this was going to be the year he got “the big one.”

As the fall arrived, the men packed up for their annual 10 day trek in the wilderness.   At home, things were as they had been every other year.  Mom and I ate poached eggs on toast for dinner, (something we only got to eat when Daddy wasn’t home) and the time passed SO slowly.  Each day I would kneel on the couch and look out the window straining to see if they were coming yet.  Each day I would watch as my warm breath made foggy shapes on the cold windows.  Each day I would wonder if they would ever return.

Finally, the moment arrived, the men pulled into the driveway, this time accompanied by the carcass  and antlers from the largest animal I had ever seen in my 6 short years of life.  This animal was so enormous and so tough that my mom would later tell us that she couldn’t even pressure cook the meat.  Eventually it all had to all be ground and used for burger, but my dad had captured the animal that he set out to find.

Most great hunting trophies meet the same fate.  The hides are tanned and they are made into some form of  wall art.  My dad’s massive elk was no exception.  This animal that was once the king of his forest soon became “Harvey” a beloved member of our family that hung on the wall of our home for many years.  When Harvey first joined us, we happened to have a place for him directly above the fireplace.  However, when we moved to another part of town, not only did Harvey follow us, but this time, the wall above the fireplace was constructed specifically for him.  There was even a reinforcing bracket on the opposite side of the wall to ensure his security in his place of honor.

Harvey looked on as many memorable occasions took place in our living room.  Parties, graduations, weddings, funerals, and each year… CHRISTMAS.  I do believe that Christmas was Harvey’s favorite event in our home.  (If it wasn’t, he never mentioned otherwise.) In fact, some years Harvey even dressed up for the occasion.  Decked out in ornaments, garland, and a red nose, he became a part of the overall effect of the seasonal ambiance.

And there he remained day in and day out.  Year after year. Clinging to his spot. Never changing while the world around him moved on at a frenzied pace.  About a year ago, my parents moved.  Harvey had to give up his place on the wall and be packed into a moving truck.  Now he sits in a corner of the garage collecting dust.  Yet, the lives around him continue to move on.  My sister, only two when Harvey first joined our family, has a two year old of her own.  My parents married 14 years that autumn, today celebrate their 36th wedding anniversary.  And I… well I, continue to seek out the adventure that might be coming down the street.  I wait with my face pressed to the glass of life, wondering what might happen next.

The writer of the Psalms had had gone through some great trials.  He was king, but he had taken the wife of another man, fathered a child with her, and then had the husband killed.  While forgiveness was an option, the writer was often filled with great remorse for what had occurred.  He worried that God would change,  and that He might not continue to work on him and through him  There are many times in Psalms where the writer cries to God for mercy and compassion.  In Psalms 138: 8 we see a statement that mixes faith and hesitation.  “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.”

While Harvey could have lived a few more years in the forest, the life he gave provided much for many.  Many nights he was the food on our plates.  Many years he brought us great joy.  His purpose continued on beyond what could have even been expected.

I am often challenged to continuously lay down my own purposes for my life.  I want more than anything to surrender my will to the will of my maker.  I want God to do HIS work in me and not my own.  He sees the bigger picture of my life and He knows how the pieces will fit together and where my place of honor is and will be.  I know he will fulfill His purpose for me, and yet I continually pick things up for myself and go along my merry way.  How much more full could my life be if I would just let God do what He needs to do?  And so I say, “Oh Lord, do not abandon me, the works of your hands.”


in a heap…

I learn so much from children. Through the eyes of a child I often regain my perspective on life. Recently, I was on a trip and had the opportunity to spend time playing with an adorable 2yo little boy. In every way he is just like every other 2yo boy. He was drawn to every mud puddle in a one mile radius. He had more fun with a cardboard box than he did with the toy that came out of it. His mind was always going, looking for the next great adventure.

One sunny afternoon, we were playing out in the backyard, and he began dragging out several different toys. In a matter of minutes we were equipped with two baseball bats, a mostly flat soccer ball, and a hula hoop. Little did I know that I was about to be rolling with laughter as we played his newly invented game. It went something like this: each person takes turns hitting the soccer ball with the baseball bat using the swing of a golf club. The goal is to get the ball inside of the hula hoop. Easy… right? Uhm, not so much. The best part of this game was the fact that this dear little boy could not figure out why I was not better at his sport. In his mind I should have been the star player. (After all I was the “big person” playing with him) The reality was that each time I hit the soccer ball, I was met with a resounding thump, and the ball managed to move only a few inches. (Have you ever tried to make a flat soccer ball move? It isn’t easy.) In short order, he was giggling hysterically, which only made me laugh harder, to the point that tears were running down my cheeks. What a lovely afternoon it was!

I often think about this life that we live. The things that we are “supposed” to be doing. The places that we are “supposed” to be going. We are even very aware of many of the gifts that God has given us, and we do our best to put those to use for His glory. Lately though, I have been struck by how much I can limit God with the gifts He has given me. I look at this “heap” of seemingly tired and worn out “equipment” and I wonder if there is anything left for God to do. Can He still use me? Or, have a given all I have to give?

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (KJV)

I am challenged by this. I want to strive for the things that God has prepared for me. I want to trust that all of this “stuff” that I have to lay before Him in offering, is about something bigger than I. I want to move forward loving my Heavenly Father, knowing that what my eye has not seen, and what my ear has not heard is worth it all.

And, OH, to be in that moment, when I am so filled with the joy of the Lord that tears are streaming down my cheeks.