“That thou mayest walk in the way of good men and keep the paths of the righteous.” Proverbs 2:20 (KJV)
When my husband Arlin and I hunted elk on Raspberry Island in Alaska, I didn’t worry about rough water in Shelikof or Kupreanof straights because our trustworthy and knowledgeable captain of the Windigo grew up fishing there and knew every nook and cranny around Kodiak Island.
Before sunrise, after a hot breakfast and steamy cup of coffee aboard the ship, Captain Robby untied his 14-foot fiberglass boat from the stern. We climbed aboard—a routine we practiced for the next five days of a seven-day trip. Before sunrise, Arlin and I dressed in camouflage with backpacks and rifles (Arlin with his .300 Winchester Magnum and me with my .338 Browning A-Bolt with a muzzle break) thrown over our shoulders. We bobbed along the waves to the shoreline. Mornings did not frighten me because of the opportunity to spot elk. But the bronco-sized Kodiak bears did cause a burning sensation near the pit of my stomach.
What if stormy skies, violent winds, and huge waves prevented Captain Robby and the boat from returning at nightfall? With only five days to hunt, plus two travel days back to Kodiak Island to catch a ferry to Homer, we needed a Plan B.
Arlin and I planned to pitch a tent if Captain Robby was delayed. If we had an elk down, we would tie it high up in the branches of the tallest tree—away from the tent—and pray.
On the first day of our hunt, I found a paw print carved into marshy ground and placed both heels of my insulated hunting boots together inside one bear paw. My imagination bested me as I pictured a 10-foot-plus Kodiak bear staring down at the fleshy area near the center of my throat.
Arlin spotted an elk about 150 yards away running uphill on the fifth day of our hunting trip. It was a clean shot, right behind the front shoulder. As we prepared and packed this succulent meat (God’s provision during winter), the slight breeze increased to 10, then 20 knots. I wish I could say I started praying before anxiety set in, but I cannot. The howling wind nearly knocked me backward as Arlin and I found protection behind a scraggly tree and waited for the boat’s return. I kept praying.
Behind the spruce, I hunkered down, wearing my beaver hat and face mask, my eyes glued to the Windigo. With fingers half frozen, I peered around the trunk and spotted Captain Robby lowering the fiberglass boat from the deck. Right away, he disappeared beneath the waves, and I held my breath and watched our trusty captain make it to our pickup point to bring us back to the safe harbor of the Windigo.
That precious memory of an Alaskan adventure reminds me of Proverbs 2:20 and God’s faithfulness and safety. God desires that we walk in the calm waters of righteousness. Yet His Word alerts us to expect rough seas and temptations. Sometimes, trouble finds us. When we venture out into rolling waves of churning water away from God’s safe harbor, we can cry out to God and turn back into the loving arms of God’s faithfulness and safety.