This week I go back out on the road to speak to guys and gals who love to hunt and fish. I'll be driving a 1300 mile circle that will include Mississippi and Georgia before I come back home to Tennessee. Most of the time these opportunities are provided by local churches. Usually the format goes something like this. Eat fish and wild game provided by local hunters and fishermen, hear a short seminar about something related to the outdoor world, give some prizes out, hear one more speaker such as myself, give out grand prizes, and go home. These events can be all-day expo type events or a simple 2 hour get-together on a weekday night. There are many ways to do these effectively. My part in these is usually to share stories of what I have learned from writing to hunters and fishermen and add my own faith message to the presentation. The right mix of the outdoors and faith is crucial. One of my favorite parts though, is listening, not talking; listening to like-minded people share their adventures of the past and their hopes for a new season. I'll get to see trail camera pictures of bruiser bucks that are coming right past tree stands. I'll also get to hear the excitement in the voices of those who can't wait to get the opportunity. And the youngsters will join in as well. Many of them will be as excited as dad or mom. They will tell me about their new gun or bow and many will be more excited for opening day than they will for Christmas! It's just the way it is in the hunting world.
What I will also notice is the differences we all have. Some will only hunt with a bow. Some would never pay for a hunt while others will. Some will hunt over bait when it's legal, others won't. Some will hunt in a preserve and others would never. We are all different. What I don't like seeing is when we find more reasons to divide than come together. I never like seeing hunters and fishermen fighting among ourselves. There are enough people out there who would like to take our passion away without giving them help in doing it.
What goes for the outdoors should also go for those of us who call ourselves Christians and who attend a weekend gathering. I've noticed those gatherings come in many different forms. Some like hymns and others like contemporary music. Some like to raise their hands, others like to keep them in their pockets. Some like their preachers to preach at a fevered pitch, others like a more teaching approach. The list of differences is numerous. What we all ought to come to realize is most of our differences are just that - differences. They are not reasons for disassociation and division but reasons to recommend a God who loves diversity.