The Myers family is fond of venison.
Unfortunately, the local grocery stores don’t tend to keep deer meat in stock. Therefore, if we are going to eat it, someone in the Myers family will be required to venture out into the great outdoors to harvest an animal.
There was a period of my life, be it ever so brief, when I went hunting with a reasonable amount of regularity during hunting season. You don’t have to know me very long to realize that an outdoorsman I am not. So for the last decade and change, I have unofficially been retired from hunting.
My wife, however, has become more vocal about her desire for deer meat in recent years. I was able to deflect her requests without consequence until the last two years.
Our son, JJ, has entered his teen years and has decided he wants to be the mighty hunter and provide the deer his mother desires. I was of the opinion that since it was his mother who was so desperate for deer meat, it was only logical and reasonable that she be the one to accompany our young man into the woods to help our son harvest it.
I was very quickly and completely disabused of those assumptions. And so it was that last weekend, my son and I ventured out into the wilderness on a hunting trip.
I must confess, as the trip drew closer, I began to develop a sense of excitement. A very gracious leader at First Baptist Church offered to set us up with guns and a good spot where we could hunt (Thanks, Larry!).
JJ and I spent the evening before preparing ourselves for the next day’s activities. We checked the weather forecast and attempted to lay out enough layers to keep us warm as we sat out in the elements. We prepared lunches, water bottles and supplies of snacks to sustain us for the day. We went to bed at a reasonable hour in order to prepare ourselves for the unreasonable and quite ungodly hour we would have to awaken the next morning.
Then at 4 a.m. (I wasn’t aware such an hour existed), we arose from our slumber to go hunting and procure the family matriarch’s coveted deer.
The day did not go according to plan. First, despite our early start time, other hunters had arisen earlier and had beaten us to our hunting spots. We still ended up with what I am told was a quality hunting location. Second, the weather forecast was incorrect. It was extremely cold and windy most of the day. And as an added bonus, we had the pleasure of several hours of steadily falling sleet and ice.
We spent the entirety of the day lying side by side at the base of a tree in efforts to shield ourselves from the wind and to preserve as much body heat as possible. For eight long hours, we laid there intently listening and watching the forest in front of us hoping and praying a deer, literally any deer at all, would wander across our path.
As you may have guessed, we had no such luck. In the entirety of our eight hours, we saw two turkeys, one hawk and a small army of squirrels that were seemingly surrounding us and mocking our misfortune. When I think back over the day, we didn’t really do much hunting. What we did was a whole lot of waiting.
While it is undeniable that our efforts at hunting were a bust, I don’t consider our day of waiting a waste. I was able to spend eight uninterrupted hours with my son. For eight hours, we sat side by side on the ground watching the tree line, listening for even the slightest of sounds and sharing with one another the anticipation of what could be just out of sight.
During that time, our cellphones rarely emerged from our pockets and only for a moment when they did. There were no computer games or movies to compete for our attention. We didn’t accomplish what we intended, but in our waiting, God gave us so much more.
It has been said the worst part of life is the waiting. But is not most of our life spent waiting? What determines whether or not our waiting is a waste is what we do while waiting and with whom we do it.
The Psalmist writes, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
If we think about the words of the Psalmist, we realize each day of waiting is a day the potential of the promise is realized. Each day of waiting is a day of seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Each day is a fresh chance to rest in his grace as we experience all the wonder this world has to offer. Each day presents new opportunities to live, to learn and to love those with whom God has blessed us.
Waiting may not be the experience we’re hoping for, but there is worth in waiting.