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Ulterior Motives
by Paul Landkamer
12/08/07
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Firearms deer season, part II, has begun in Missouri, and I went out today. I didn't get my deer during the any-deer portion, so I feel like I need to try harder during this antlerless portion. But I ask myself, "Why?"

The first time I tried deer hunting was in 2004. I tried a couple pre-dawn mornings, and didn't like the runny nose or cold feet or fingers. The day I got that '04 deer, I simply took a stroll at about 4:00 in the afternoon, and by 4:30, my first buck was hanging in the tree.

The following two years weren't quite so easy, but they still involved only afternoon walks on my groomed trails. The shots were all close enough that I'd never had to sight in my rifle. It's nice to say I'd gotten a deer each of the years I'd gone out. This year, however, I've got a nagging feeling that'll change.

We don't really need the meat, but the roasts and the ultra-lean burger is nice to have in the freezer. Home-made jerky is great, too. Then I think: I don't particularly like cleaning a deer. I don't really like grinding up all that meat. Our freezer's already full of a bumper crop of okra. I can't say I get a thrill out of killing. I don't even find myself in a hunting circle where we tell of our exploits. Yet, I feel somehow compelled to make a fourth consecutive year of deer season.

Am I after bragging rights? Is it a primitive urge to kill or to provide food? Do I really take joy in the power of life and death? Do I use hunting as an excuse to get out in the woods? I don't know. Now I'll let you all down by saying this article won't give you the answer to this deer-hunting dilemma.

Many of us feel driven to something. It may be a satisfying something or even a something we know beforehand won't be an ultimate goal. We often pursue a goal certain or not of any satisfaction. In my local coffeehouse the other day, I overheard several college guys discussing their uncertain futures.

One of the group talked of how he wanted only to be "free-spirited and care-free". (This is an aside, but when I hear that, I automatically think it means unbound by any higher morality. It turns out, he meant, like the apostle Paul, content and positive in any situation he might find himself.) They discussed the meaning of worry versus stress. They pondered future marriages, jobs, and whether it would all be ultimately satisfying. Would they get their deer or not? Were they really after a deer at all?

Will I continue to try for the deer? Yes, but in the long run, getting that deer doesn't matter. Life will go on with or without the deer. We need to know not to obsess on the deer, whatever our deer might be. There's a much more important pursuit. If you don't first pursue a relationship with Jesus (and not just the politically-correct generic god-thing) it won't matter how full our walls get with trophy deer!

This scripture really isn't about deer, but look at the impact of those three little words in John 15:5-7 "…if…if…if…" Without Jesus, you'll always be chasing a deer and never getting it –and never knowing if that's what you really need.


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