I was hired to be a horse wrangler for a big game outfitter in the Yukon and was given a list of things I must have as part of my gear. On this list, amongst things like sleeping bag, rain pants, rubber boots, ax, knife, was binoculars. Well I had never used binoculars before much. The few I had tried in my young life, tended to make me dizzy and disorientated.
I didn’t know much about them, so I called Terry up and asked what kind of binoculars I should get. He gave me a run down how I could go by a cheapy pair for a couple hundred bucks that would serve me adequately for the season, though I would probably want to upgrade before too long. However, he said, I could buy a pair of binoculars in the higher quality range, straight out, and never have to upgrade, they should last me a lifetime. He told me to keep in mind that part of my job up in the Yukon, I would be with the guides sitting for hours glassing for game, so I would want something comfortable and easy on my eyes.
Well I went trucking down to my local sporting goods store in Calgary and moseyed up to the knife/gun/binocular counter. All the goods here were locked up behind glass so I had to wait until one of the sales guys noticed me hovering over by the section that had many types of binoculars on display. He was a big guy, with a typical macho attitude that you would expect in a sporting goods store—gruff and spare with his words. I told him I needed binoculars and I didn’t know where to start, but I wanted good ones, not cheapy ones that would break or bust on me.
Without a word he handed me a pair of Bushnell’s—nothing against Bushnell, remember I had no biases at this point—but they sucked—at least for me. I have a small head and my eyes are spaced close together, so I quickly discovered that the average binocular didn’t quite squish close enough together so that I could see through them comfortably, and I could only look out of one eye piece at a time. They made me dizzy, and I couldn’t imagine looking through them for extended periods of time. I told the sales guy that and explained I needed a pair that would fit me better.
So he handed me a pair of Bausch and Lomb’s and gave a brief description of them—very brief. I wasn’t getting a lot of information out of this guy! But I wandered around the store checking them out. They seemed a bit better—I could at least see out of both eye pieces at the same time—but they seemed a little dark and I still felt like I was straining to see through them. So I asked if there was anything better. He told me I just probably needed to get used to them and that these were the best of the middle range binoculars.
“Can I try those ones?” I pointed to a slick pair of black ones on display at the front. A silver eagle mounted on them. They were pretty—all sleek and black and compact.
He got real talkative then! But not in a good way. Basically I was told that this was a Swarovski Binocular and that this brand was pretty expensive, probably more than I was hoping to spend. They were at the top end of things. I thought it a little odd that he would talk down about the top-of-the-line binoculars. However, I insisted that I wanted to try them out.
Soon as I got them in my hands, they squished together perfectly and I put my eyes up to them and Wowzers! I was in love! The optics was crystal clear, sharp and so full of light; the fit was comfy though a little on the heavy side, but the clincher was that I didn’t feel dizzy or disoriented one bit. I wandered around the store trying them out and just knew this pair was THE ONE! It was love at first sight.
I went back to the counter and told him so. And I tell you, the guy did a fairly good job at convincing me that this were NOT the one I wanted. He even had me try the Bausch and Lomb’s again. And I hemmed and hawed and yet when I put the Swarovski’s up to my eyes, I couldn’t deny that this was the pair I wanted. But was it wise? The Bausch and Lomb’s were at the top of my price range, but the Swarovski’s blew them out of the water, both in optics and price.
I made my decision, and never once regretted it. Swarovski groupie became I.
The sales guy grudgingly packaged up the beautiful, sleek black, 10×42 binoculars, pointing out the warranty and lifetime guarantees and the beautiful gold eagle pin that came with. And I waltzed out of the store with a fan-dancy pair of binoculars.
When I showed up in the Yukon to work as a horse wrangler, I had a lot to learn! One was that when the horse wrangler has better binoculars than the guide—that’s not a good thing. Not know much of their value, I was a little surprised (and proud) at the envy coming from some of the hunters and guides I ran into.
A few days into the first hunt, the guide I was assigned to, talked me into letting him borrow them. In a round about way he told me that he deserved to have the best binoculars since he was better at glassing for game than me. At this point I was realizing I wasn’t the greatest at finding game, and was often too tired to be much of a help, so I just let him borrow the Swarovski’s and never got them back for two whole hunts! It was almost like he held them hostage!
He used his leather gloves to clean the lenses when they fogged up, and wore them on the outside of his rain jacket when it rained, never mindful of what he was dragging them through. It was like he didn’t acknowledge or appreciate the value or the cost of them. And I was cringing but totally not sure how to go about getting back my own property! I was cowardly, I know! But this guide was a little unstable with his mood swings, so I was hesitant to confront him. After all when I did approach him about it, his arguments made sense. His were crap. He was the guide. He was the one that needed good binoculars. He was the one that had the better eye. And on and on. And I just let him.
Then that guide was shifted to another camp and I insisted on having my binoculars back. I regretted lending them out, because by the time I got them in my hands, the lenses were scratched up and some of the rubber was all scuffed. He had used them hard and with little care in the month he had them.
My new guide was quick to point out a rule in most hunting camps: that guides never lend out their gear, and that extended to horse wranglers. If they didn’t have the foresight to have their own, it wasn’t their place to beg, borrow or steal off of others. I told him, about my binoculars and I just assumed I was helping him out. I did it out of the goodness of my heart and little bit of naivety. And he said this is why there is such a rule. No one takes better care of their own stuff than themselves, because no one values it as much. Never again was I quick to lend out my binoculars to anyone else. They stayed on my chest for the rest of hunting season—at least during the day—and I had them for the rest of the years I spent working in the bush.
This got me thinking about a part of the bible study I’m doing on the book of Daniel. In chapter five, there is a story about a great party that King Belshazzar of Babylon throws. During the drunken orgy he orders for the gold and silver vessels of the plunder from Jerusalem’s temple be brought out and then everyone uses them to toast their gods. These vessels had been consecrated as holy and set apart by the priests of Jerusalem, and not only that, by God The Unseen One, Himself.
Well Belshazzar and his guests were celebrating when fingers of a human hand appear and start writing in the plaster of the walls of the great hall. Belshazzar has the fright of his life, he ends up a puddle on the floor, screaming like a girl. (I totally picture that femmy king guy in the movie Braveheart here). This is where Daniel is brought in, after none of the other astrologers, wise men, and diviners of the kingdom could figure out what the writing on the wall meant.
Daniel, after giving a brief spiritual history lesson on Belshazzar’s grandpa, the great king Nebuchadnezzar, interprets the words on the wall. The meaning becomes clear. God has numbered his days. God had weighed him and found him lacking. God would hand over his kingdom to the Persians and Medes. God was not pleased with how Belshazzar thumbed his nose at Him and his arrogant misuse of His consecrated vessels. That very night Belshazzar was killed and Darius the Mede took control of the kingdom. (October 12, 539 B.C.)
Now the study I’m doing, makes a connection between the holy vessels used in the temple and the followers of Jesus being holy vessels, and how we have been “separated from ordinary or common usage and devoted to God.”1 Then it draws the parallel about how some vessels are used for honorable purposes, set apart and useful and others are used for ignoble purposes and how we are considered valuable and holy by God and given a marked purpose.2 The teacher asks us if we understand if we’ve been anointed and declared holy, consecrated, set apart unto God, just like the vessels in the temple of Jerusalem were.
She then makes a statement “that Satan has no greater agenda than attempting to desecrate what God consecrates.”3 He tries to convince us that we are common, unholy and cheap and we start to act less than we are. Often we don’t value what God values in us and so we live assuming we are not worthy and allow ourselves to be mistreated or used dishonorably. “But God doesn’t overlook Satan’s mistreatment of holy vessels”3 of any kind. And I would say, He doesn’t overlook when we cease having regard for what He has called holy either.
And silly me, instead of golden vessels I thought of Swarovski binoculars and how that guide took my precious pair and used them as if they were cheap Bushnell’s and how he held them hostage with no thought to me as the owner. I thought of how it was just like the Israelites were weak and easily overtaken by those they LET have power over them, and then their own valuable articles were taken captive by the Babylonians, to eventually be misused and desecrated.
Maybe they cast blame or refused to acknowledge their part in it. Maybe they even blamed God for putting them in such a position. Maybe they were naïve and didn’t really understand what was valuable. Oh wait that was me. Doesn’t matter what the reasons are, I think the damage happened because both the Israelites and myself didn’t REALLY value what we valued or we would NEVER have left the door open to let someone take and misuse our valuables in the first place.
I also thought about how when someone uses a treasured possession of mine cheaply and without care—it makes me angry! And then I thought about the “Writing on the Wall” and what happened next. God SEES it all. God KNOWS it all. And God takes ACTION!
A wise person would step carefully with what God marks as holy, precious and HIS, for as both Nebuchadnezzar and his grandson found out the hard way, God is most definitely able to humble those who walk in pride.4
1Ibid., New Testament Lexical Aids, #41, 1572
22Timothy 2:20-21, Ephesians 1:1,4 and 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
3Daniel “Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophesy” Bible Study by Beth Moore
4 Daniel 4:37