I love adventure. I love hunting and fishing. You could tell by looking on my nightstand. Currently I have a copy of the latest Salmon and Steelhead Journal, an OHA magazine, a latest Field and Stream and a copy of Outdoor Life. Of course I have my Bible, an NIV and a copy of "The Message" which I enjoy reading as well.
I also have 3 or 4 DVD's on my nightstand that I've been plugging in and watching bits and pieces of before bed. I have No Canyon for Old Men, Tagged Out, Hot Bulls 4 and Addicted 3. Addicted. That's what I want to talk about. Not the video, but the addiction itself.
When does doing what we love cross the line and become an addiction? Is it okay to be 'addicted' to wholesome things such as hunting and fishing. I mean to be good at it, to be successful there needs to be some kind of attachment or love or desire to continue pursuing it, right? It's not hurting anyone is it? Or is it?
This has been a struggle for me in the past, and I don't claim to have a cut and dry answer for these questions. I don't think there is cut and dry answers for everyone, but by walking with God and tuning in to His Spirit, I think I've discovered a place where I can be at peace with my love for these activities. Here is what I've come to learn;
Satan basically has two ploys to try and get us from becoming all that God has intended for us. His first ploy is to get us to lose heart and become seperated from our true desires that God has placed within us. We all know people who have lost heart, given up, have no adventure, or their biggest adventure in life is keeping a nice lawn or something along those lines, but the desire gets buried under layers of junk until they reach a point of being ineffective.
If satan can't get us to totally bury desire, then he will throw us a counterfit that has some resemblence of our deep desires and true nature but it is designed to get us off track. To send us down an exciting road that will eventually lead us to a position of losing heart. In Addiction and Grace, Gerald May writes, "Our addictions are our own worst enemies. They enslave us with chains that are of our own making and yet that, paradoxically, are virtually beyond our control. Addiction also makes idolaters out of us all, because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment, thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another."
So that could be a sort of test. Has this object become more important to me than truly and freely loving God, or others? And my sad answer to that question used to be, yes. I would be so tuned in to trying to catch a fish that I couldn't enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, the company I was with, and take a moment to reflect, or to thank God, or to listen to what he is trying to speak to me through my time outdoors. I knew I suppossed to be getting my kids outdoors and sharing the adventure with them, but they kind of got in the way of me being hard core. Sharing my passion with another was an afterthought because of my selfish desire to "get one for me." Never mind how I left my wife every weekend so I could get out there.
But thank God, I've changed. Sure, I can still roll back into some of those old habits but for the most part I'm cured. And I'm cured by the great high that I feel by sharing my passion with others. Hunting and fishing with my wife and kids is more fun than I ever thought possible. Seeing them enjoy it and watching them have success has been a real high. Teaching my friend Brian to hunt deer 4 years ago and watching him have fun and have success for 4 straight years gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I shared my passion with him and it lit a fire and now he is sharing it with others. I took my nephew Luke out and guided him to his first deer and it is a memory he and I will share forever.
Our passion, our strength, our love, our talets, our gifts....they are not for us. If they are just for us we become selfish, we become addicted and we end up losing interest at some point. Our passion, strength, love, talents, gifts, our very lives are for others. And we are to glorify God with what he has given us. When we do, He seems to be all over blessing that.
A few days ago my daughter, Morgan was out in the front yard working with her goat (she shows goats in 4-H). While she was out there a young woman of maybe 20 years old came riding by on her horse. I watched as the young women stopped and took an interest in my 12 year old daughter and her goat. They talked for a while and then the young women cantered off on her horse.
Morgan came up to me and I asked who that was that she met. She said, "That was Krissy, she is boarding her horses over accross the field and she said maybe I could ride with her some time." Now you have to understand that my daughter has been enamored with horses since birth. She absolutely loves them. She has taken some riding lessons and she loves it but we just haven't been in a situation where we've felt comfortable owning a horse and owning the expense of horse, even though Morgan's found one on Craigslist everyday for the past 3 years! I said, "Oh that's nice." However, I didn't really think the young women would ever follow through.
Well just last night this young women, Krissy, calls our home phone. Morgan answered. I heard some talking, then Morgan comes running over, "Dad, it's Krissy! She has two horses saddled up and she's in our driveway. Can I go riding with her!!!???"
Morgan had a blast! They rode for two hours and when Morgan got back she had this grin that she couldn't wipe off her face. Now I'm sure Krissy could have ignored Morgan that day when she was in the yard. I'm sure she likes riding solo and she enjoys being alone with her thoughts while riding along the country side. Taking a 12 year old that she barely knew on a ride was sort of a risk on her part. She didn't know if Morgan could handle a horse. But she stepped out of her own little world, took an interest in a younger girl, and asked her to come along. She shared her passion with someone else. And Morgan will never forget it.
So I guess, maybe I'm asking you to think about your time outdoors....your passions. Don't let them become addictions. Don't let them be only self serving. Steer clear of that trap. Your excitement and passion for the outdoors is contagious! Others need it. There are so many people who need adventure, beauty, and to meet God in real ways out in creation. I think God wants us to share that, and to infect others. Not just with the activities that we enjoy, but by offering ourselves and our time and dare I say it, our love.
I hope your fall season is a powerful one!