Upon pulling into the driveway outlined by pick-up trucks, I never could have imagined the story God was writing. A simple Bible study is all I expected… no different than a lifetime of growing up in the church… however, Purpose2018 became something that none of us saw coming.
A four week study of the book, Wild at Heart by John Eldridge, and hours of discussion about masculinity was the result of this room full of like-minded outdoorsman. Discussion covered how society is urging men to become something they were never created to be. Manliness is not to be defined by repetitions in the gym, or number of girls you are “snapping;” instead, masculinity is defined, in Genesis, as our role in the story of our Creator. From naming the animals to being joined by a woman, manhood is a picture of order and leadership, not a clever hashtag on media.
The final week of our group was the longest meeting of them all, not because of the discussion depth, but the awareness of what we thought was our last night together. Luckily, this was only the end of the book, not the story of #Purpose2018.
Following the Bible study, a vision was born for an event based on a passion for more outdoorsman to hear the message of the gospel. The planning and vision was a result of a guru in the industry, Reagan Renfroe. His dream enabled a group of guys from all over the country and outdoor industry to gather together on a three day hunt in the center of the universe, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
On January 7, whether by plane, truck, or trailer with a load of nine dogs, each outdoorsman (two legged or four) arrived to the lodge for a home-cooked supper. After re-fueling, a quick devotional, and game planning session, each hunter went to bed dreaming of a hunt that would not even come close to the real-life version to follow.
After watching fourteen industry professionals set up the decoys and blinds in record time, the group was like a kid on Christmas awaiting the first flight of the morning. As shooting time came and fourteen safety buttons clicked to fire, outdoorsman from across the nation were, in an instant, brought together as if they had been brothers since birth. As muzzles exploded like the Fourth of July, the dogs of Southern Oak Kennels hit the water on mission to bring the mallards to hand. Before long, there were 56 birds down, and it was time to make a decision on waiting out our limit or calling it a day. Due to a lack of plans at the lodge, we sent a crew of guys to the local McDonalds for bags full of quarter-pounders and the nostalgic fries that the arches are famous for. As the sun set and we ended a twelve hour sit full of great shots, stories, and multiple pranks, we snapped a thousand word memory with a single shutter click.
A home-style meal and devotion was waiting at the lodge before bed and preparing for Day 2. The next morning we hunted with Bluestem Waterfowl and it happened to be an epic feed. As soon as the sun peeked over the tree line surrounding the wheat field, cackling and honking became the soundtrack to an unforgettable morning. Groups of 100-500 Lesser Canada Geese were dumping in, feet down with empty bellies. Not quite the welcome party the geese expected, the 14-barrel firework show ended with 71 geese getting their pictures taken by a barrage of Optifade-wearing paparazzi. That evening, we found ourselves in a field full of stubble and dreams for a mallard limit. The ducks had other plans, and put on a marvelous aerial display 2 minutes after shooting time had passed. We watched them cup and dive into the field with strategic perfection and thanked our creator for his wonderful masterpiece. This was the final hunt with all in attendance at #purpose2018. Southern Oaks Kennels headed to the DFW Airport to pick up a pup, many had to go to work the next morning, and a few remained to grind out another good hunt on Wednesday.
What remained? A lot of birds for next year (most of us are better with a camera than a shotgun), biblical challenges for us as we returned to our families, and friendships unrestrained by miles, age, or occupation. Our love for the outdoors and our devotion to following Christ brought us together to form a bond that none of us expected. We will never have everything figured out, but through Christ, we can trust in what is unknown.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”
So let me ask you the same question we asked ourselves,
What is your Purpose? What is God orchestrating in your life? What areas in your life do you need to hand over control?
See you in the blind.