I was at Trout Lake Camp, working for an outfitter east of Atlin. There were two guides, two hunters and myself as the cook/wrangler, in camp. Each pair was hunting for a Canadian moose trophy and Trout Lake was prime moose territory during the fall rut. We had high expectations for this hunt as we had seen many large moose hanging out near the lake in the previous weeks.
The wind picked up until it was blowing at almost gale force on the first day and it didn’t quit for most of the hunt. At least this camp was tucked back behind trees and not high and bare like my previous camp at Lincoln Lake, but that didn’t help the hunters much as they were limited in where they could go.
For three days the men hunted. Two went off on horseback and the other two took the boat out on the river and then they would switch the next day. Neither pair saw anything on their days out. The wind was howling and I guess the moose hunkered down.
I stayed in camp baking bread and preparing suppers. I also worked at painting the inside of the old cabin and cleaning up the junk left behind by the previous outfitter’s guides. In the process I saw four cow moose along the edge of the swamp bordering the horse corral, and then a little later while I was painting, I heard a bull moose come screaming and grunting through camp. I just missed seeing him as he tore into the bushes near the horse corral sending the horses into a panic.
One of the hunters, Ron was super high maintenance, and after three days of seeing nothing he was extremely irritable. He would come into the cabin at the end of the day for supper with a constant stream of complaints. He accused us of sticking him in sub-par moose camp with the least experienced guides, because he had bought a donated hunt. The other hunter mildly interrupted and asked if that meant the outfitter was screwing him too. Ron suddenly seemed a little aware of who he was talking too, but that didn’t stop him for long because he went on complaining about how he’d traveled all over the surrounding country the last few days and he had yet to come across any fresh moose sign.
“There’s no moose in this country!” He stated emphatically.
I informed him that I had just seen four cow moose and heard a bull moose come through camp, but he nodded politely and never really acknowledge hearing me (probably because I was “just the camp cook” and a girl). He went on and on and on about all that was wrong with this hunt. He even debated just staying in camp because it was pointless to go hunting for moose in country that was obviously not prime moose country—at least to his “experienced” eyes.
Even though the three of us working for the outfit were pretty irritated with him, we insisted that he keep on hunting—partially because I didn’t want to be stuck in camp with him all day and mainly because we all knew he would see moose eventually if he just got out and kept looking. Ron agreed to go, but refused to believe that there were any moose in the area and demanded that I call up the outfitter on the radio and have the plane come in to relocated him to a better camp.
It was baffling for us and especially for his guide Norm, who day after day would show him moose sign but it was like the guy had blinders on. He refused to see what was right in front of his nose! He refused to believe his experienced guide, because he had a preconceived idea in his mind that someone was out to screw him.
I was reminded of this hunt, while I was preparing for my Sunday School lesson the week after Easter about “Doubting Thomas”. Now I don’t think of disciple Thomas like I do hunter Ron. I don’t think Thomas was high maintenance and hard to please, but I do think he a had a preconceived idea in his head and it was really hard for him to reconcile in his mind what all his buddies were telling him.
They had all supposedly seen their teacher alive! Even after him being confirmed dead by the Roman soldiers who had hung him on a cross. Roman soldiers who themselves would be condemned to death for lying. And then he was put in tomb.
Everyone knew it.
But now everyone was saying he is alive!
The women especially. But they are just women. And everyone knows that women just say things to get attention.
And so how can you believe something as crazy as all this?
Thomas needed to see with his own eyes. He needed to put his hands in the nail holes and touch the wound in his side before he could possibly believe such an extraordinary story.
Eight long days go by.
Eight days with no sign of the supposedly alive teacher, and I bet Thomas was feeling much like hunter Ron. Discouraged and maybe a little miffed. Everyone around him is constantly babbling about Jesus rising and showing up in locked rooms. But where is he?
Where are the signs? The proof?
And then suddenly He’s there.
Flesh and blood.
Nail holes and scars.
And Thomas fell on his knees and becomes a diehard believer. I mean who wouldn’t if they could stick their hands in the nail holes and look into the Master’s eyes?
What about hunter Ron? Well he got his moose. Biggest one of the year for the outfit. You could say he became a believer too. Who wouldn’t when they are holding up the massive horns in their hands and have the stink of moose all over them?
The other hunter Ed had yet to spot a moose. Though he had always had a strong belief there were moose around, he was starting to doubt. He was discouraged but his hope was strengthened after seeing Ron’s moose. Ron’s moose was evidence that there were moose around and moose to be had, so he continued his hunt with renewed purpose and three days later he came back to camp with his own trophy. A big gray bull all covered in old and new battle wounds. A warrior on his last legs.
And there was celebration. Ed was now a true believer.
And Thomas, the doubter, was now a true believer, in that his teacher was more than just a good teacher—He was the Son of God! And Thomas spent the rest of his life testifying to that—strengthening the hope of those still searching, still wanting to believe, even though they had yet to see.
And we who have seen that hope are all given the task of guiding others to that hope, of pointing out the signs that are obscure or to evidence that is hidden or to the proof that is concealed. And some of us will be good at our job and some of us no matter how good or bad, will never be able to do anything about the stubborn and close minded, but remember there is a far greater guide—a Master—who has given a promise that all who keep hunting will find what they are looking for. They will receive what they are asking for. And the hidden will be disclosed and the concealed revealed.
We are here to encourage them on. To remind them that the key to all hunting is to stay with it. To get out of camp. To never give up. To be ready to find.
And there is another promise.
A promise for those that keep the hope even when all is hopeless.
A promise for those who believe without seeing. A promise of even better things in store for them!