This winter, I have tried my hand at “trapping.” The reason for this foray started during the fall while hunting deer. I would listen to the songs of the coyote every evening while sitting in my treestand. My trail cam pictures would display images of raccoons (at my deer feeder) that would square 4 feet! My 18 year old son announced that after high school, he was running off to the mountains to live off of the land and support himself hunting-trapping-and fishing. These three events combined into one thought, “I should set some traps this winter.”
Now I know that some of you are thinking, “I see how two of those events are related, but how is your 18 year old son running off to the mountains related to setting traps this winter?”
To answer that question, let me explain why I’ve enjoyed trapping this winter. Like hunting, trapping is not something which is mastered. There is always something new to learn. New discoveries await in every bend of the trail, in every new track, in every popped trap, and in every animal encountered in the trap line. How the trapper approaches making his trap sets and their locations based on terrain, prevailing wind, and the abundance of tracks and sign varies from place to place. Not only is there a lot of physical preparation (cleaning traps, gathering baits and lures, securing permission from land owners, etc), but there is a lot of mental preparation.
I enjoy the strategy and tactics involved in making trap sets and applying the different types of baits and lures. I enjoy the discipline of ‘checking the line’ every day. I enjoy the anticipation of not knowing what the ‘line’ will produce. It helps me understand this passage from 1 Peter 1:13-16 a little better.
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Peter tells us to “prepare our minds for action”, which is the mental side of our Christian walk. To adequately prepare, we need to spend time in the Scriptures and on our knees in prayer. We need to let God hold sway over our hearts and minds. Peter follows up this by telling us to “keep sober in spirit”, which speaks to the discipline and repetition of living out our convictions revealed to us during the preparation stage. This is the emotional side of our walk. A heart and mind under the steady influence of God will be seen in our emotional state as we do life. And finally, Peter instructs us to “fix your hope completely” on all things Jesus Christ. This is the faith side of our walk with God. After we prepare, we can keep, and while we are keeping, we are fixing our focus completely on Jesus.
“To what end…heaven?”
Heaven is certainly part of “prepare-keep-fix” but so is the last part of that passage. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” To prepare-keep-fix is an application to becoming holy. It is also another way of achieving the greatest commandment, “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30
Preparing my mind for setting and maintaining a trap line is the mental part of trapping. It is the strategy of where, how, and with what type of trap, that I enjoy so much. Keeping my spirit disciplined to continue checking the line even after the line has been empty for 4 days in a row, without anger, without contempt, and without remorse is the emotional side of trapping. Fixing my hope on the potential yield of tomorrow, the faith side of trapping, solidifies my resolve to continue preparing and to continue keeping my spirit disciplined.
My son was in love with the ideology of living off the land, but he wasn’t in tune with the prepare-keep-fix aspect of actually doing it. Instead of pulling out my Bible to explain the finer points of 1 Peter, or reminding him of some of his past declarations and ideas, I decided to run a trap line to teach him about prepare-keep-fix. With visions of photographs hanging on the wall at the local sporting goods store, picturing him posing next to hundreds of coyotes, he jumped into this new adventure with much gusto. Preparation was a concept he assumed happened magically, or at least he was fine with dad doing it. The discipline of ‘keeping’ started out great, but waned once the reality of the yield became apparent. At some point, he realized that photo at the sporting goods store wouldn’t need to be as big as he first thought. The faith needed for tomorrow, the ‘fixing’, faded out into frustration and resulted in disinterest. Without a single argument, I convinced my oldest son that living off of the land by hunting-trapping-and fishing was not a very viable idea.
How many new believers jump into faith with images of glory and photos on the sporting goods store wall? They attack their lives with great gusto and thoughts of ‘great works.’ They assume preparation happens by magic, or they are fine with somebody else doing it. Once the happy-happy emotion fades away, their discipline fades with it. Their faith needed for all of the tomorrows they will face, dissolves into frustration and disinterest. How many…?
It is not enough to bring the lost to the foot of cross and then let them twist in the wind after they choose to follow Christ. We must continue to lead and teach our younger brothers in the ways to love the Lord with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Our walk with Christ, like hunting and trapping, will never be mastered. We must disciple, we must remain diligent, we must teach them how to PREPARE-KEEP-FIX.