Exploring God’s Great Outdoors – Behind the Scenes Learning WILL Work Out 

Z-Exploring God's Great Outdoors-Tom Claycomb III (1)

By Tom Claycomb III 

I saw a post last night on Instagram by @imalexismonique that made me laugh. It said something to the effect of, “God did not say stay busy and know that I AM God. He said be still and know that I AM God.” 

Everyone has heard the old adage, “An oak tree doesn’t grow big and strong overnight.” It takes decades. That may sound cool in a philosophy class but if you’re young and wanting things to happen right now, it’s not necessarily what you’re wanting to hear. 

Remember how in the movie “Karate Kid” that he quickly ran out of patience painting his mentors’ fence? But then saw the importance of it when it was explained to him that he was sharpening his defensive moves? 

Well, I’m not too sure how much eternal wisdom that we’re going to get out of studying a Hollywood movie so let’s look at a real-life adventure out of the Bible. Remember a young shepherd boy named David? I’m told he was about 16 years old when he took some food to his brothers who were fighting the Philistines. 

Put yourself in his moccasins (er, sandals) for a minute. His brothers got to be in the limelight. They got to go to war and have a chance to be heroes. What lot befell David? He got sent out in the hills to watch the stinking sheep. 

In those days he didn’t have a cell phone. He couldn’t check his Facebook page, Instagram, or post pics on Twitter of a lamb getting carried away by an eagle. The present era would see that as a boring, unfulfilled life. Nothing to build up his self-esteem. Nada. Zilch. 

And yet this was the perfectly prescribed training grounds for the future king of Israel. When David saw Goliath strutting in the valley below, blaspheming the Most High God, he was shocked. He couldn’t believe it. Was no one going to whack this uncircumcised Philistine? 

Suddenly the fog of his understanding lifted and he clearly saw that he’d been perfectly trained for such a time as this. He went to King Saul and requested permission to go shut up the  Philistine. 

Of course the devil tried to weasel in and have David discard God’s training and weapons of war and put his trust in the earthly wisdom/methods when Saul told him to wear his armor. 

What the modern world would see as an underprivileged, deprived young boy with no cell phone, no internet service was actually a boy in the perfect training scenario. With none of the above distractions what did he do all day? Knowing young boys, I’m betting that he practiced shooting with his slingshot every free second that he had. He shot birds and rabbits for dinner. He set up targets and every day tried to beat his previous day’s record. I bet it went something like this: “Okay, I hit my 4-inch target 101 times in a row yesterday. Today I’m going to try for 115 times.” Much like your kid shooting free throws. 

What about in the evening setting around the fire ring after dinner? With no TV to rob his time, all he had was a harp to spend time learning how to play and writing songs. What good could that possibly amount to? Oh, yeah, he’s the guy that later wrote…how many Psalms as he cried out to his God? The Psalms we still enjoy today? 

And what about the slingshot deal? In private he went from shooting targets and birds for snacks to killing lions and bears. Oh, I guess the slingshot deal might have been ordained by God and might come in handy later too, huh? 

Read 1 Samuel 17:32-51 for the whole story, but in a nutshell, David suddenly saw that he was fully prepared for this battle. In v. 37 David said moreover, “’The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the Philistine’. And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the Lord be with thee’.” 

Ever wondered why David gathered five stones? I’ve heard that Goliath had four brothers.   

I say the above to encourage you to hold fast if God has you out learning back behind the scenes. In due time if you’re faithful, He’ll exalt you so you can bring Him Glory and Honor.  I promise you. That’s how He works. 

Now let me give you a personal example. I won’t go through the whole history about how I got into being an outdoor writer, but not long after starting, I decided that I wanted to start teaching some outdoor seminars. But what I saw as a curse turned up to be a huge blessing. I’m constantly floored when I see God work like this. I’ve worked for 45 years in the beef packing world. If I was around some big-name writers and everyone was asking, What do you do? one might say, I worked for 15 years in the Forest Service. Next one, I went to journalism school. Next one, I invented the 30-06 or whatever. Then it comes to me. Er….. I work in beef packing plants. 

I thought at best that I was second-class. How would I ever get to present seminars at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, or Sportsman’s Warehouse? Much less at the big shows like the Safari Club International Convention, the Dallas Safari Club Convention & Expo, or the SHOT Show, the biggest outdoor show in the world with over 60,000 people attending from all over the world? 

Did God send me to college to get a journalism degree (so I could use Saul’s armor)? No! Of all things, He used my packinghouse background! You ask how’d He do that? Think about it. All outdoorsmen use a knife and yet I bet less than 5% can sharpen one. When I first started conducting seminars, I got my foot in the door by doing a Knife Sharpening seminar. 

Then due to my packinghouse experience I noticed how many dysfunctional knife designs were on the market. I then changed my seminar title to KNIFE SHARPENING/CHOOSING THE PROPER KNIVES. I’ve taught knife seminars from Texas to Alaska and been on staff of some big knife companies. Now I conduct 40-60 seminars/speaking engagements per year. (Yes, Covid slowed things down.) God used something that I thought was a curse to pour all of the above blessings out on me. As I’m typing this, in an upcoming two-week period, two different knife companies are sponsoring me to go on two different Texas hunting trips. Crazy, huh?  

So, the point of this article is, if God gives you a task to do, do it with all of your heart and then set back and see what God does. What you see as a curse may just be your boot camp to train you for something bigger. We know from the parable of the talents that if we’re faithful with the small things, then God will give us bigger responsibilities later. That’s how He works. Hit it hard and see what God does with your seeds of faith. 


For more information, contact Tom at [email protected]. 

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