The Unpredictability of the Wild

One of the risks you take when you spend time outdoors is running into wildlife. Most of the time it’s no big deal because the wildlife you run into is likely more afraid of you than you are of them. Deer, turkey, usually skunks, racoons, or other such creatures. One exception would be wild boar. Those critters are just plain mean and are best avoided. I’ve only run into them once. Fortunately our encounter was from a distance where, although they saw us, we were too far away to be interesting.

Other wildlife is a bit more problematic. I recall being in a lake in Colorado with my son Philip when an elk came up behind us. I think we were standing in his favorite drinking spot and we had nowhere to go. Further into the lake there was a deep ledge and although we both wore waders we decided not to risk it. The way back to shore was blocked by the huge monstrosity of an animal, so, we raised our arms and got loud (don’t know if that’s what your supposed to do). The elk wasn’t intimidated and went nowhere, so we decided to  pretend like we didn’t care if he was there or not. We were trapped so, what else could we do? We just kept fishing (caught 250 greylings that day). Fortunately I think he got bored watching us and found himself a new drinking spot. He was a intimidating, to say the least.

Bears, however, are in a totally different category when it comes to wildlife. I’ve run into them on several occasions, but usually from a safe vantage point. While backpacking in the Smokies one time I stayed in a lean-to that had a fence for bear protection. About 2 o’clock in the morning I was awakened by a hungry bear looking for snacks. She was four feet from us and was able to reach her paw in to try for my backpack but the fence kept her out. On another occasion I was on the Cache la Poudre river in Northern Colorado when I looked downstream and saw what looked like a rather big dog. I decided to put my glasses on after which I discovered it was a bear, not a dog. But he wasn’t interested in me and just moved on up the mountain, stopping now and then to look at me. I suppose he was debating about how I might taste, but, alas, he kept moving.

The most frightened I’ve been, though, was on a smaller stream in that same area a few years later. I was down an embankment looking upstream when I heard some noise. I looked across the stream to see a black bear running toward me full steam. And I responded just like you shouldn’t respond to a bear. I turned and ran yelling to my friend as I took off. The only bright thing I did was to keep my expensive rod in my hand instead of throwing it down. I figured that all I had to do was to out run my friend. But he very calmly asked where I saw the bear and when I turned to point to the beast, I discovered that Yogi never even knew I was there.  When he heard me yell “bear!” he stopped in his tracks to discover the source of the commotion. He decided we weren’t worth the effort and ran away.

The stories I have accumulated over the years all add to my love for the outdoors. Sometimes being outside can be scary. It is an untamed world out there and life can be quite quite unpredictable. Nevertheless I am always comforted to remember that God is in complete control. He, too isn’t predictable and certainly can’t be contained, but Scripture describes how, though he is dangerous, he is good. We have to be careful not to allow what happens in the world to dictate our opinion of Him. Sometimes circumstances tempt us to think God is unfair or harsh or the opposite, like a sweet old grandfather. He is neither. He is to be feared like you would a raging waterfall. The waterfall is amazing and beautiful, but you would never just jump into it. You would respect it while you admire it’s beauty. Proverbs tell us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

So, as we live in this unpredictable world, it is wise to live in it wisely, but always looking up to the God who created it. There is none like him. In the words of Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he isn’t safe, but he’s good.


I am a husband, father, counselor, lover of art and an avid outdoorsman. What you see is what you get. I have served in ministry since 1984 and my role as evolved into one of counseling. I am the guy who swore he’d never go to seminary, but in his last 40’s started a masters and then a doctorate in his 50’s. Go figure. My greatest desire is to help point people to our amazing God who is full of mercy and grace in his Son.

Things That Give You Life

Most anyone who knows me is aware of where I’d rather be than just about anywhere. In a river out in the wild casting a dry fly upstream. I love the thought of being outside in one of the greatest canvasses in the world. Nonstop flow of crystal clear water with magical sounds and life underneath the surface. It always helps when I’m surrounded by majestic mountains and crisp cool air at high altitudes. This is one activity that gives me life.onthePoudre

I love the adventure of what I see. I love the remarkable creativity in the setting. I love the endlessness of marvel it brings to my heart. There’s something sacred and very replenishing to my soul. I think that’s why I love fly fishing so much.

It makes me think about what David wrote in Psalm 19 where he said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Perhaps it’s that truth that makes being in the outdoors so enriching to my soul. That is where I worship God most naturally. It is beautiful, awe inspiring, and untamed. That’s why it gives me life. It is experiencing God in his majestic creation.

But we all are refreshed somewhere. Some of us find life in things like art or activities like running. Others find it in areas that you wouldn’t expect. I have a friend who worships God when he working on an Excel spreadsheet. He puts some praise music on, puts his ear buds in, and he marvels at the God of the universe who created math! Finding where you find life and refreshment is important. It gives you a moment of rest and places you in a good position to worship God.

I have to be honest. I sometimes struggle to worship during church. It isn’t because it’s not a great time or that the people who lead us are not good at what they do because we have an amazing worship team. It’s more because I sometimes struggle to keep focused. I think about my job or I get distracted by people watching or I am drawn to my cell phone. Not always, but more often than not. I’m working on that and growing in my ability to sing and worship at church, but when I am outdoors, especially in a river, I cannot help but worship. There is something about being outside and standing in a river fishing. I guess I think about the Living Water Jesus spoke about to the woman at the well.

He told her that if she drank from the well she was drawing from she would be thirsty by noon, but he then said to her that if she drank of his living water that she would never thirst. I like that and as I grow in my relationship with God and get older myself I understand more what he is talking about. The wells we can drink from can be anything from wealth to work or from security to sex. They might provide some immediate satisfaction but they always leave you wanting more. Jesus, however, fully satisfies with what the world can never provide. With him we actually find satisfaction. But that flowing water that I stand in while observing the majestic mountains reminds me of this living water that Jesus provides.

Whether you are refreshed in the outdoors, doing finances or lifting your voice in song during worship service at your church, it is important to find our ultimate rest in Jesus who is the Lord of the Sabbath (rest). He is the Living Water. Rest in him, for in him there is life.