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Good Morning Brothers…

(My good friend has some thoughts to share this morning…)

The anticipation and excitement of the first hunt of the season, brings back fond boyhood memories of cool crisp mornings shared with like-minded individuals. This year’s hunt would be slightly different. My boyhood experiences in Kansas would have to be put to the wayside for my first ever elk hunt. The mountains of Colorado would be the venue for this year’s hunting start.  I trained as well as I could with a job that has some travel worked into it, and a full time family life. I lost over two inches off of my waist and about 15 pounds. I was off to Southwestern Colorado to enjoy God’s creation and partake in a bountiful harvest. The drive to elk country from the middle of Kansas is one of little sights. To pass the twelve hour drive the three elk hunters talked of seasons past, always keeping an eye out for an antelope. This meant that we were actually gaining ground on the mountains that we were going to tackle.

We arrived, prepared our gear, and looked up at the mountain that we were about to scale.  The part I never pay attention to or think about is elevation or distance, that is, until now. The trail particulars are three miles, with a starting altitude of eight thousand five hundred feet and an ending altitude of eleven thousand eight hundred feet. When you actually walk this trail, an odometer would click off six point two miles. My wife and I enjoy a good hike every time we make it to Colorado, so I had seen lots of mountains and trails. When hiking with my wife I take in the views and enjoy God’s creation. This is what my idea of a hike in the mountains. This was my hike for about the first one thousand yards. Then, you stop thinking of the surrounding beauty and turn all focus inward as your body starts to scream to stop. You gasp for precious oxygen and your jelly legs are not sure you can take another step. It is one thing to walk in the mountains and it is another to strap a fifty pound pack on your back and hoof it up the mountain side.

This got me to think about human nature, depression, and sin. Self-preservation is the basis of all human response. Fight or flight is pre-programed into our minds, ensuring the human races survival in a less civilized time. We are programed to think about ourselves first, putting everything else second to survival. The society we live in today takes individualism and ambition to the forefront. We are conditioned to put ourselves first and to achieve more than our co-workers at all costs. We are hailed as leaders by working 80 hour weeks to make it to the top of the corporate ladder. Everything else is second to our own ambitions. Depression popped into my mind, because a few people in my circle battle with this affliction. Depression is one hundred percent introverted thoughts and focus. The pain that depression causes, takes hold of the afflicted and propels them inward. They turn all focus away from the beauty of life and God’s great gift to an inward battle that can’t be won. Sin is also an internal battle. We look out for ourselves first and ask the question, what kind of pleasure can I shower upon myself, regardless of the people it hurts or the great God that we hurt deeply.

I prayed hard for God to deliver me up that mountain. I also took strength from all of my great friends and family that were praying for me. I was worn out physically and mentally, but the love of God and joy never departed from heart. In past circumstances I would have relied on anger and my own abilities to propel me up that mountain. But, as it were, I felt like I was soaring on the wings of eagles. I made it!

As Christians we are afflicted by human nature, depression, and sin. We are all human and will always fall short of the Glory of God. I asked the Lord to deliver a verse to me and He lead me to Romans 8: 5-9: “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; or it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” We are Christians and are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Our focus cannot be on our own flesh and we must strive to see that our focus is on God. The apostle Paul tells us, “…but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…” life, not death and peace, not strife. I am encouraged to keep my focus on the gifts that God has given me, for everything in life is a gift from God. From my toothbrush to my vehicles, to a glorious elk hunt high in the mountains of Colorado, all is a gift from our Heavenly Father.

If any one of us was given a month to live, we would think about a vacation or to do something for ourselves. Our one great and perfect example, Jesus Christ, served. With death only a day away the Gospel of John shows us in chapter thirteen that Jesus humbles himself and washes the feet of all his disciples. To get out of a rut in life, depression, sin, and human nature…serve. Emulate Christ and put others first. See God in everything and everyone. God is the one and great healer. There is no problem that God can’t solve, so ask. Ask, seek, and knock.

The remainder of the story will follow next week.

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