by Paige Patterson
A wounded lion, leopard, or Cape buffalo adds adventure to a hunter’s life. The animal cannot be left to suffer, and other humans are put in danger from the fury of the beast. A good hunter must not only know the habits of the animals, be a good shot, and know how to work in the wilderness; he must also have the courage to go into heavy brush after the animal, knowing that a charge may well be inevitable. The hunter must remain alert, cool, and wholly focused on his task. When the action starts, he will have to act quickly; yet with confidence and control, or face the prospect of being mauled or killed.
The first shot I made on a large lioness was from quite a distance. This magnificent feline disappeared into high grass identical to her own color. She awaited our approach. With trackers on each shoulder and other hunters thirty feet on each flank, almost breathlessly I walked point through the high grass, focused directly ahead, watching for any movement. My 500 Nitro Express double rifle was already on my shoulder, safety off, ready for instant response. When the charge came, time stood still. A flurry of action and this magnificent lioness lay at my feet. When I reached over to touch her, my heart broke into a race like a quarter horse breaking from the chute.
But as dangerous as this and other hunts have been, there is still a more dangerous hunt that every human must attempt. In the Bible, a man named Paul spoke of this hunt when he said that the hunt of all time and eternity consisted of “bringing every thought into captivity to Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
The writers of the Bible make quite clear that the thought life and the passions of all humans are the source of the problem. Jeremiah, a Jewish prophet, expressed the problem by noting that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked’ (Jer. 17:9). The wise Solomon warned, “Keep your heart diligently, for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts (Matt. 15:19).
From these observations a hunt to capture the thoughts and the passions of the human heart is obviously the ultimate adventure. More hunters fail on this hunt than any other. In fact, while Cape Buffalo annually take the lives of three to four hunters in Africa, hundreds of hunters every year succumb to the battle with their own thoughts and passions and end up in hell.
But what makes this hunt even more dangerous is the failure of all conventional weapons. A 375, 458, or 500 will take anything down- except for the thoughts and passions of humans! And nothing fails like human reformation. Another prophet, Isaiah, looked at all human efforts to please God and Capture our thoughts and passions and concluded that “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). If the best we have to offer God is like “filthy rags,” how will we ever capture thoughts and passions and be right with God?
David was a remarkable man. He was King over Israel, singer, author, shepherd- and perhaps the greatest hunter who ever lived. Most people know about his successful fight with the Philistine giant, Goliath. But that was easy. He was a great shot with his sling, and this one-round bout was over in five seconds. What is much more impressive is the encounter with an African lion when armed with only a knife and his bare hands. The lion lost. So did a bear on another occasion (1 Sam. 17:34-35). Now that is a great hunter! How did David handle the toughest hunt- for his thoughts and passions?
Even though David was an excellent hunter and courageous man, he knew that he, like all of us, had a wicked heart. He also knew that only God was able to change his heart. So he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10). Notice three truths:
The wildest and most dangerous hunt, the hunt to control the mind and heart can only succeed with the intervention of God. For this reason, God the Father sent Jesus His son to the earth. Jesus accepted the penalty associated with our uncontrolled minds and passions when He died on a Roman cross. He took our sins and gave us His righteousness. And with that righteousness comes the power necessary to conquer our evil thoughts and passions- “to bring them into captivity to Christ.”
If you want to attempt the ultimate hunt, the greatest adventure, the hunt that most men fail and to which they lose life and eternity, then join me in this simple prayer to God:
God I know that I have sinful thoughts and passions I cannot capture. Today I trust Jesus your Son as my Savior. Create in me a clean heart O God, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Nothing makes me happier than to know that fellow hunters or others trust Jesus and get a clean heart. Below is my email. Let me know if you prayed that prayer or have questions. I will respond.
Dear God, I thank You today for the men and women who must love Your artistry- the mountains, streams, woods, flowers, fish and game. I thank You that You, the Great Artist can also create a clean heart in each. I pray this day that You will do this for each one who reads this booklet. Amen.
Dr. Paige Patterson lives in Fort Worth, Texas and serves as the President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He is an avid hunter and scuba diver. He has hunted Africa extensively for two decades.