Perseverance pays off! How many times have we heard that? In the world of hunting and fishing, it usually means we didn't get our game because we didn't gut out the tough stuff, we did not persevere. But on this early-spring South Carolina morning, perseverance finally paid off!
What a magical day it was! Right from first light we were in turkeys and I mean IN turkeys. Once things got going we had turkeys pitching down all around us. However, also from the start - something wasn't quite right. The birds did not start gobbling until late. They were not responding to locator calls well. Hens kept cutting us off so we knew it would be tough to get the gobblers all the way to our position on the edge of the swamp. We watched birds pitch down and parade all around our position just out of range. We watched two gobblers strut for 20 minutes. We watched another tom tend a hen. We watched helplessly as a third gobbler snuck a hen out of the area. Everything we tried - everything we knew to do and had worked before failed to produce. By now it was , our hunt was coming to a close.
As we were driving out totally defeated, Henry said "there are always birds in this field" and there they were! They saw the truck and started working toward the far end, not spooked but heading out. We were helpless. No traditional sit-and-call tactics would work because we were already busted. In a last ditch effort, we drove around an orchard and tried to get out in front of the birds. The turkeys were following the edge of the field like trained ponies at the fair. We set up and called just enough to let them know they had company. I had to let two hens walk right past me and then re-position against the tree. The gobblers made the corner and peered into our position looking for love. My front bead covered two birds but I refused to shoot because Henry always lets me shoot first. He finally figured it out and fired. Feathers erupted everywhere! A gobbler started off to my left, presumably wounded or scared to death so I 'anchored' him. Suddenly Henry fired again and all 3 birds were down! A true Triple! Not in 3 days. Not in 3 hours. Not in 3 minutes - but in three seconds! Was it a traditional hunt? NO! Would I trade this memory for the world? Never!
As always, God was teaching. I see two key life lessons here:
- Romans 5:3-5 states: "Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And the hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into out hearts…"
· We were rejoicing in our early morning suffering! We were enjoying great fellowship. We were in birds - even if the hunting was hard. We became determined to hunt till the bitter end. We were going to persevere. And in that single-minded determination, we had hope! Our chances were slim, but we had a chance!
- We would never have scored if we kept to traditional tactics. Jesus never healed folks the same way. One day words - the next day mud in the eye! However, as humans, we become predictable. We fish the same three lures, we hunt the same stands and we use the same calling sequences. Jesus modeled that we should adapt to the situation presented us.
Yes, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the height of stupidity - in the woods, on the water, at home, and at work. If things aren't going well, change your strategy - but be persistent and there you will find the hope we have in Jesus!