Okay, I've finally figured out a downside to living in Fresno. It's taken a full eight-and-a-half months to find one, but deep down inside of my reminiscent heart, there is an ache.
For seven years, I was privileged to live within a comfortable twenty minute drive of the Howard Mountain Hunting Lease. With the first hint of spring weather, I would roll out of bed before dawn as often as I could just to hear one, two, three, sometimes as many as twelve adult tom gobblers greet the dawn. Couple the beauty of a Ouachita mountain sunrise with the unmistakable gobble of an adult turkey gobbler and for me...well, life just doesn't get much better!
Last week, I had a need to call my dad. Slipping back into the role of days gone by, my dad, upon hearing my voice on the other end, instinctively asked, "How many did you hear?" That's the way we started every phone conversation for the better part of the four weeks leading up the start of spring gobbler season every year.
According to the California Department of Fish and Game, wild turkeys do not exist within Fresno County. Aarrgghh!
Thankfully, Erick Boggs has come to the rescue with a supposed tried-and-true hunting spot in El Dorado County. Hopefully, we can get up there next weekend as spring gobbler season opens on March 25th in California.
Till then, I find myself reminiscing back to a spring morning in 2005...
This morning I awoke at 4:45 A.M. It wasn't insomnia. It wasn't the cry of a teething one-year old daughter. It was intentional -- my alarm clock awoke me.
It's spring in Arkansas and for me, the advent of spring means turkey hunting! It's only 11 days till the opening of spring gobbler season (4 days until the special youth hunt for children ages 15 and under). I have committed to taking one of the young guys in our youth group this coming Saturday morning. Last year, his big brother and I had great success (we harvested an 18lbs. two-year old gobbler by 6:30 A.M.). This year, it is little brother's turn.
For the men on my dad's side of the family, spring turkey hunting is a passion. It started with my grandfather, was passed down to my father and now to me. And I love it! It isn't simply the challenge of outwitting those wary tom turkeys, but the spiritual opportunity provided from time spent in God's wonderful creation that so invigorates me.
This morning, from an elevated vantage point, I witnessed the handiwork of God. The morning dew formed a light ground fog. The birds awoke (especially five tom turkeys that sounded off). The sun crept over the eastern edge of the Ouachita Mountains.
The magnificence of the sunrise this morning provided more empirical, undeniable evidence of the omnipotence of God! I witnessed with my own eyes the majesty spoken of in Psalm 113.3: "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised."
My time in nature each spring provides a unique sanctuary. A time for prayer, reflection and praise. God's creative genius, on display this morning, made for a special opportunity to worship Him.
When was the last time you enjoyed a beautiful sunrise and seized the opportunity to worship? It might cost you a few hours of sleep, but the benefits far outweigh the cost
(originally posted on March 29, 2005).