Do Not Be Conformed

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Mondays are usually my day of sabbath and I often spend those days in the mountains without cell service. It is a time where I intentionally spend time with the Lord. But yesterday, I got up and made coffee at 3am, loaded my pack with lunch and essentials, and met a pastor friend to try and fill his elk archery tag. At about 6am, we donned our packs and headlamps and headed into the timber to a new area we wanted to explore in search of the elusive Wapiti (elk). At daybreak, the chase was on. We had three different bulls bugling around us and devised a plan to pursue them. For the next three hours we chased these animals into some of the most rugged and steep country I have ever been in. We had some close encounters and had two bulls and several cows within 100 yards but just couldn't make it happen and ended up bumping them into the next deep drainage. 

We thought the day was about over as we sat on a high perch and enjoyed our lunch and V8. Halfway through lunch, we spotted some elk directly across the very deep drainage we were overlooking and we watched them bed down. We were back in the game. Here is where it gets interesting. We were already mixed into our hike in very steep and rugged country and we were tired. We actually considered bailing off into the canyon going right at these animals but we knew that to do so would almost absolutely spook them and would be pointless. As tempting as it was, we fought the urge for an easy route and took the long and difficult way of climbing out of where we were and circling far down wind, crossing the drainage, and up the steep other side in an attempt to stay downwind and not spook them. Any real hunter will tell you, although hard, it was just the right thing to do.
As we pursued these animals, I thought about how it might relate to following Jesus. The truth is following Jesus is not always easy. In fact, it is often very hard. It is exhausting and sometimes there seems to be an easier way to do things. We are often tempted to compromise with the ways of the world because we think it just takes too much or is just too hard. We give up or give in to what we think is an easier way and in the end there is no benefit that we thought might be there. 

I love Paul’s encouragement for us in Romans 12 to not conform to the world or compromise our walk with Jesus. He knew it would be hard but so worth it because when we strive to follow Jesus, He shows us things and allows us to experience things we never would without Him. In other words, it is worth it because it is good. Paul says we need to test our ambitions with God’s will and glory and when we pursue Him in all that we do, without compromise, it is not only acceptable, but it is good. How often do we miss out on God’s perfect goodness because we are not willing to put in the energy or effort to pursue Him? We simply settle for so much less. 

I know you are wondering, we did get close to these elk but did not close the deal. We hiked the miles back to the truck with sore feet, empty water bottles, aching backs, but also an incredible experience of beauty and encounters and it was so worth it. I was encouraged immensely by my friend and he from me. It was a day I will not soon forget as one of the best days of hunting I have had and for that I thank the Lord for that gift. 
I love you guys and thank you for allowing me to be your pastor.

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