Early spring is a magical time in northern Idaho. This is the time
when the sweet spring vegetation fills the air with a perfume aroma.
The beautiful June berry scrubs are adorned with white flowers that
provide a beautiful contrast to the velvet green carpet of annual
grasses that are evident in all the open areas.
I had recently moved to the Northwest and found that springtime in
Northern Idaho is known for its superb black bear hunting. From my
office window I could see the wildlife was becoming very active after
a long, cold winter. I knew that the availability of so much food
tempted the hibernating animals to indulge. Animals like the elusive
black bear would be on the prowl for a good meal.
While this was appealing to me, my winter and spring schedules had
been quite hectic and afforded me little opportunity to properly scout
the best areas.
A local pastor contacted me about a speaking engagement for his
church and asked if a "guided bear-hunting trip" would be enough
incentive to compensate for my normal speaking fees. I graciously
accepted and set a time to work in a hunt between commitments.
On my drive to the Sandpoint, Idaho, area, I remember sharing a
request of God that went something like, "Dear God, because You are in
control of all things I know You can deliver a bear to me if You
desire. I have worked very hard in ministry this past year and would
really appreciate a chance to take a good bear. I know this is
somewhat of a selfish and insignificant request, but it would please
my heart so to be allowed the privilege of harvesting one of these
wonderful critters. Your Word tells us that You like to give a
righteous man the desires of his heart. And so, my Lord, I humbly ask
You to assist us with this hunt."
Upon arriving in Sandpoint, I met Clint Gray, a very talented young
guide, who had just purchased Buck Shot Outfitting. His background and
education in fish and wildlife management plus his forestry work had
prepared him well for the opportunity to help guide folks into some
rugged terrain. While most outfitters in this area use bait as a way
to attract their bears, Clint believes in spotting and stalking as a
challenging way to take a bear.
Upon my arrival I was greeted with the news that early scouting
reports didn''t look very good. It seemed that because of an unusually
heavy snowfall, the early grasses were just beginning to appear.
Clint lamented, "The bears went into hibernation early due to an
unseasonable snowfall and lack of food. They also came out early but
very thin. The grass areas are very spotty and provide limited food
supply for the hungry bears."
The first night we surveyed with our binoculars (glassed) several
wooded areas and finally found a bear working the upper edge of a
grassy hillside about two miles from our location. We only had two
hours of light left. This gave us barely enough time to scamper up
the steep, brushy bank. We planned our stalk to climb a section of
mountain that would come out about a quarter-mile from where the bear
As we worked our way through the heavy downfall, we knew our
presence was being announced with the periodic snapping of dry limbs
and debris. I rememlber that it was like walking on a conveyor belt
covered with potato chips. As we crept around the dense vegetation
separating us from the feeding bear our confident expectation that the
bear would still be there was quickly eliminated. Sure enough, the
bear was no longer holding in the same location. Clint reckoned that
"most likely he heard us stalking through the heavy timber and
departed with the first snap of a twig."
The disappointing hike back to the truck gave us plenty of time to
remember that spotting and stalking bear was a challenging exercise at
best. The darkness of the evening covered our look of defeat.
The next morning we began scouting a variety of areas with no
success. We saw plenty of signs but no bear. The late afternoon
approached with a cold front and a small storm that further hampered
our efforts in locating bear. As Clint began asking me questions
about when I would again have time to come up and do some hunting, I
realized that without assistance from the Creator this trip would be
recorded in Clint''s guide book as "an opportunity to get plenty of
After strolling through a couple of areas and seeing no sign, Clint
decided to check out one more area before we headed home. The previous
year, while doing a timber job, he had seen a nice chocolate bear in
that area. We pulled our truck onto a dirt road and parked at a gate.
The short walk to the meadow was filled with silence as both of us
felt exhaustion and disappointment from hunting since 5:00 A.M.
After about ten minutes, I could see the open area at the end of the
path. I decided to quietly chamber a round and put on my safety. The
sun was beginning to set, and the remaining light was only going to
last another few minutes. We carefully moved along the perimeter
looking for any dark, fuzzy objects. As we initially peered around
the field we did not see anything that looked too promising.
We moved to a slightly higher elevation and began to search the area
using my Nikon low-light binoculars and scope. As I studied the far
end of the meadow, I thought I saw the shape of a bear. In a whisper I
asked Clint,"Is that a bear or a stump?" Clint gazed through my
binoculars and smiled as he said,"Sure enough, Jim! I think that is
that big, chocolatecolored male bear (boar) I saw last year!" Knowing
that we only had minutes left of legal shooting time, I decided not to
try to close the distance by crawling across the meadow to get a
close-in pistol shot with my .44 magnum as I had initially planned.
Instead we elected to move up a little higher where I could sneak
behind a woodpile that could be used to steady a 100 yard rifle shot.
Just as we were relocating, the bear looked up from his feeding. Our
movement announced the fact that he was no longer the only one in this
meadow. The big boar scampered into the woods where he could further
analyze this situation.
I could faintly see the bear outlined against the darkened forest.
His clumsy movements in the dense vegetation gave us the advantage by
identifying his position. He peered through the underbrush and
periodically stood up to try and catch our scent. The slight breeze
in our faces provided some assurance that his efforts to identify us
through smell would be hampered.
As minutes passed, my disappointment grew. I became frustrated at the
thought that we had blown a chance to finally bag a trophy bear. As I
heard the crunching sound of his lumbering steps moving farther into
the woods, I could only think about what might have been.
I lowered my rifle to take a deep breath and reflect upon our
impatient movements that might have frightened this critter. I looked
at Clint and shook my head. He could read the disappointment on my
Even though it apeared hopeless, we both stood rigid, minutes passed
as we peered into the blckness. Suddenly we again heard the famliar
sounds of a large animal blundering its way back to the meadow. The
fuzzy, dark image again appeared along the perimeter of the woods,
just to the left of where I had first seen it. I gazed at the animal
in disbelief. I now had some understanding of how Abraham must have
felt when God delivered the ram to be sacrificed for his son Isaac. I
felt very blessed that God''s providence would allow us a second chance
to take this grand bear.
Clint and I stared at the bear without saying a word. As soon as the
bear moved sideways and commenced feeding, I slipped in front of Clint
for the shot. From a standing offhand position, I steadied my aim and
gently squeezed the trigger when the bear stepped into my crosshairs.
My Browning 7 mm barked as the Boss Muzzle Break System dissipated the
flash into the cold night air.
The flash temporarily took away my evening vision. The piercing noise
seemed to awaken the sleepy forest as critters starting yelping and
chirping. Clint yelled out with joy, "You hit him, Jim, you hit him!"
As my eyes adapted again to the dark shadows, I peered through my
scope to see the bear gasping for its last breath. I fired another
round to quickly end the drama. We dashed to the fallen animal with a
sense of thankfulness and wonder. To know that the Creator was
gracious enough to redirect this bear our way was a humbling exercise.
As I knelt down to thank God for His goodness, I was reminded how
gracious our God is to provide so many things. The Psalmist reminds us
that nothing escapes His attention "He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call" (Psalm 147:9).
Even the simple request of a tired hunter was responded to with a
God takes great delight in providing gifts to His children. He loves
surprising us with bounty beyond our imaginations. "And we know that
in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have
been called according to his purpose" (Roman 8:28 8:28).
This unique adventure caused me to think about the words found in
Scripture that defined Abraham''s experience: "Abraham looked up and
there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and
took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it
is said, ''On the mountain of the LoRD it will be provided"''(Genesis
The goodness of God is neverending. It is when we examine His acts of
goodness that we see more of His character.
Understanding the Goodness of God
Someone once said,"Goodness consists not so much in the outward
things we do but in the inward things we are." As we further study the
character of God, we see that the inward things that constitute His
divine character include a heart of being good to His creation.
The awesomeness of God often causes us to fear Him. His goodness
encourages us not to fear but to appreciate His kindness and
cordiality. It is a paradox of our faith to fear God but not to be
afraid. It is through understanding His loving nature and His goodness
that we are able to appreciate His infinite care.
The goodness of God is defined through His kindness, benevolence and
acts of good will toward mankind. His blessings, mercy, sympathy, and
tenderheartedness can be seen
When Jesus was asked about the goodness of God, he replied, “Why do
ask me about what is good?... There is only One who is good. If you
want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Matthew 19:17).
It is the goodness of God that drives the appreciation for the many
daily blessings we receive. Blessings like a bear coming back out of
the woods so that a tired hunter might have some meat for his freezer
and the joy of taking a trophy bear. We need to appreciate those
unexpected pleasures of life that cause us to humble ourselves before
man and God.
Since God is unchanging and perfect in His character, we can
appreciate that the intensity of His goodness and lovingkindness is
the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He has never been kinder than
He is now. He will not become more kind in His character in the
future. He is no respecter of persons but makes His sun to shine on
the just and unjust alike.
Somehow in the unique character of the Almighty there exists the
potential to be just and fair while continuing to be good. It is that
mystical blend of God''s being that enables Him to stand in judgment of
man while continuing to show mercy.
The goodness of God can be seen in many ways. His character serves as
a model for us to follow in knowing how we can manifest goodness to
others. "You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your
decrees" (Psalm 119:68).
God''s Goodness Supplies Temporal Wants
"Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness
by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides
you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy" (Acts 14:17).
God delights in providing goodness to His creation. By supplying us
with our temporal wants, He demonstrates His compassion for creation.
In His divine plan for mankind God provided "all things" and an
ability to willfully choose our destiny. These things are a testimony
of His goodness and creative powers. God is not a control freak. He
has graciously made us with spirits and minds so that we can choose
God''s Goodness Leads to Repentance
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance
and patience, not realizing that God''s kindness leads you toward
repentance?" (Romans 2:4).
The natural response to someone who has demonstrated kindness is to
show appreciation. We can demonstrate appreciation in many ways. Once
we accept God''s goodness in our life, we have a responsibility to
analyze our attitudes and actions in light of His unmerited favor.
Most people have a desire to change their behavior as a testimony of
their thankfulness for His goodness.
Our verbal acknowledgement of the act is always appropriate. When
this is expressed to our divine Creator, we call it prayer. A
repentant heart (changed life) can testify and thank God for the
goodness and mercy given in a specific situation.
God''s Goodness Is Expressed in His Forgiveness
"Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh,
Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the
Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them,
saying, ''May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone''"(2 Chronicles
Like King Hezekiah, we want to cry out to our loving and faithful God
to thank for His grace and His mercy. Out of God’s goodness He answers
prayer and forgives sin.
"You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who
call to You" (Psalm 86:5).
It is because of God’s, goodness that He allows us access to His
eternal kingdom. By accepting the wonderful gift of salvation we can
forgiveness of sin. I would think that Christ''s sacrifice on the cross
was the ultimate act of goodness from a loving God. He asks each one
of us to accept and appreciate this act for its transforming power.
Have you accepted this act of goodness from God?
As we endeavor to model God''s character, let us do good. We can do
more good by being good than in any other way. In the final analysis,
the only way to be good is to obey God. “Let us not become weary in
doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if you do
not give up(Galatians 6:9)
John Bunyan once said, “Everyone will cry up the goodness of men; but
who is there that is, as he should, affected with the goodness of
Are we daily demonstrating the goodness of God in our lives? What
acts of goodness have you provided to others this day?
• How can God’s character serve as a model for us to follow in knowing
how we can manifest goodness to others? “You are good, and what you
do is good; teach me your decrees”(Psalm 119:68)
• When Jesus was asked about the Goodness of God, He replied, "Why do
you ask me about what is good?... There is only One who is good. If
you want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Matthew 19:17) What
does that mean in terms of how you should live your life?