For my first decade hunting in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains, I had a topographic map and a compass for navigation. They served me well for the most part. I seldom found myself wondering where I was, where I was going or how to get back.
In 2004, while hunting elk in the Bitterroots of western Montana, I learned a valuable lesson that I will never forget. We got on some bugling bulls that where working down the back side of a ridge in heavy dark timber. I was fixated on the thundering screams and with laser beam focus pursued. We traveled quite a ways before admitting defeat. The bulls were just too fast and stayed well ahead of us. At that moment, I turned around to look for the return route and nothing looked familiar. I looked at my compass, but what good was it. It could tell me what direction I was facing, but not where I had been. I hadn’t been checking my heading on my compass, nor had I been pausing for a look back at where I had been. A shudder of panic fell upon me. Where am I and how do I get back?!!!
This situation could easily have turned dire, fortunately, my best friend Derin had been watching his compass heading and making periodic looks back. He knew where we were, where we’d been and how to get back.
Lesson learned. From that point on, I have made an intentional effort to mind my heading and to look back often at where I had been.
Navigating unfamiliar territory in the wilds is not unlike navigating life. We are continually heading into unfamiliar territory. I have been spending a good deal of time reading from the Old Testament lately. Looking back, so to speak. I have been studying the history of God’s children, our history, where we’ve been, what we’ve done and the results of those choices.
II Chronicles 30:7-9 (NKJV) And do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, so that He gave them up to desolation, as you see. 8 Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. 9 For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”
This study has led me to personal reflection, as well. Where have I been? What have I done? Where am I headed? Have I been watching my heading? Should I get off track, could I find my way back? What does that path look like?
So often, we allow ourselves to be so focused on what lies ahead, we forget to look back at where we’ve been. How can you confidently know if you are on the right course?
As a society and as individuals, it is vital that we not loose sight of our back trail. History repeats. We need to know our history, so that we can strive to repeat the positive and avoid repeating the negative.
In this era of GPS, the navigation has gotten a bit easier, but I still rely heavily on my map and compass. I keep an eye on my heading and look back often. God’s word is our map and compass in life. Watch your heading, look back often and try not to get lost in the wilderness. God bless you all and have a great weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy