God turns our mistakes into gold

Published 6:29 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

By Thurman Hayes

Many moons ago, when I was pastoring in my first church, a deacon invited me to go deer hunting with him. This kind man gave me a rifle and invited me to learn the art of “still hunting.” (This is deer hunting that is done in the quietness of a stand, without the use of dogs.) I quickly grew to love it. Experiencing the smells of fall, seeing different animals, hearing the sounds of the forest and the gorgeous sunsets — it is incredibly peaceful and restoring.

At times, this peace is punctuated by the sound of gunfire. Over the years, I’ve been able to take many deer, and a couple of trophy bucks.

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This past fall, I only got a chance to hunt a few times, and had not fired my gun until the last week of the season. On Dec. 30, a bitingly cold afternoon, I climbed into a tree stand. Now I do not even have to see a deer in order to have fun. The experience of nature and the suspense of knowing a deer could walk out at any moment is enough. But on this afternoon, I heard what deer hunters know is the telltale sound of deer walking. In this case, it was many deer walking.

Within seconds after hearing the sound, the first deer popped out. It was a doe. In late December, does tend to walk together, so I expected to see more, and I was not disappointed. Within seconds, 10 does were within 30-40 yards from my stand. They were moving among the trees. I knew it would be an easy shot at one of them, but I had to choose my target. Obviously, I wanted to shoot the biggest deer, to provide the most meat until next hunting season. But since the does weren’t standing beside one another, I couldn’t immediately tell which one I wanted to take.

And then it happened: One of the does “made” me. That means she saw something — maybe a slight movement on my part — that “spooked” her. Immediately, she and the whole pack of deer bolted. Instead of an easy shot and a freezer full of venison, I had nothing.

I sat there full of disappointment that I had not seized the moment and taken a shot more quickly. Why did I have to be so picky?

About an hour later, as the sun was setting, I heard another sound. From years of experience, I strongly suspected it was a buck, because it was walking alone, close to dark. I raised my gun and pointed toward the sound. And then I saw it. It was a clear shot at the body. It scampered about 20 yards, and I heard it fall. It was a beautiful buck, a “wall-hanger.”

Why am I telling you this hunting story? Because there’s a lesson to learned here for your life story.

Friends, we have a God who is able to take even our mistakes and failures and turn them into gold. I felt like a failure for not taking a shot earlier. But listen: If I had taken a shot at a doe earlier in the afternoon, I never would have seen the trophy buck that I killed later. God “causes all things to work together for good” (Romans 8:28).

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.