The Virginia Big Game Contest was held this past weekend at the Southampton County Fairgrounds in Franklin. Sportsmen young and old, male and female, from all over the state traveled there to enter deer, bear and turkey harvested during this past hunting season in hopes to place high enough in their respective brackets to earn a place in the state's record books. I rode down there Sunday afternoon for the awards ceremony with my good friend, who had harvested an impressive gobbler in the spring, and was entering his bird in the contest. I also had a bit of a vested interest myself. See, I had entered a bird in last year's contest and placed first in the state overall, so I wanted to see how my bird's overall score was going to compare to the scores of this year's entries. As it turned out, there were over 50 turkeys entered into this year's contest from the eastern half of the state alone, a significant number higher than last year, to include a couple of birds whose scores were within a couple points of the standing state record! It wound up being a great way to spend the afternoon and to get my juices flowing for the upcoming hunting season, being able to witness many impressive animals that had been taken by men, women and children and getting to hear some of the stories behind their hunts.
Proverbs 27:21 (The Message)
The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame.
Several thoughts rolled through my mind during the ride home Sunday afternoon. Though I do not believe I have been cocky or pompous about placing first in last year's event, it was nonetheless humbling to realize that what was good enough to place first last year, would have only placed third this year. On top of that, the same volunteers who worked last year's contest and that raved over my bird then were there again this past Sunday, but not the first one of them remembered by bird, recognized me or bothered to announce that last year's winner was in attendance! Let's be honest, though, should they have had any good reason to remember? That was last year, that's old news!
Records and notoriety - we seem to be so allured by and drawn to the need to have our names at the top of the list of "who's who". But in reality, all records and notoriety quickly fade, are forgotten by those around us, and we are often left with a discontented soul. Many feel the need to constantly rebound by attempting to achieve something bigger and better than before to prove to themselves and others that they are at the top and have what it takes. During a hunting show I was watching the other night, I heard Michael Waddell say that "every hunt is a chance to outdo the last." And while it is great to have goals and want to continue to improve in our hobbies and interests, much of our lasting success and contentedness is tied to our motives. In a famous sermon it was once stated that "we are all standing in the shadows waiting for our moment when the spotlight is taken off of someone else and placed on ourselves. Unfortunately if your ascension is based upon someone else’s decent than you have succumb to the mentality which says for me to get up the ladder, I must pull someone down or keep someone down." It is ironic that so often we stand in the shadows of true greatness because of our selfish and sinful tendencies. According to God, however, true greatness is not found in gaining notoriety for ourselves. Rather, it is the understanding and transformation into what John the Baptist taught us - that we must become less so that He (Jesus) can become greater.
Men, take a moment to examine your goals, objectives and motives. Are you seeking after that next personal record for your own fame and self-worth, or is your goal to see that the Provider of all perfect gifts is exalted to His rightful place? - GE