What happens when we learn someone we know has been involved in some kind of secret activity? Don’t we rush to judge them? They’ve been hiding something from us. We thought we knew who they were.
Now for my confession. For the past two years I have been engaged in an activity that I have kept secret from many people, including some of my family and friends. I am a trap shooter, or to put it another way, I enjoy shooting at four-inch orange clay discs flung from a machine at 40+ mph with a shotgun. Right away you can see why I would want to keep this activity hush hush. It involves the use of firearms, a very volatile and divisive subject. Tragic headlines appear all to frequently involving the misuse of firearms. I understand and sympathize with people who are afraid of them and respect the opinions of others who hate them with good reason.
My problem with keeping this activity a secret is that it intentionally hides something I am passionate about from people who think they know me.
So, why do I like trap shooting? I like it because it challenges me personally. After watching others enjoy the sport, my thought was, “yeah, I could do that.” So I invested in the necessary hardware and then discovered it was not as easy as it looked. There were so many variables to contend with. This was going to require some effort – commitment!
My original goal was to see if I could actually break (hit) a few of the clay “pigeons” in a round of shooting defined as twenty-five attempts. My efforts were successful after understanding the basics of aiming and gun safety. Although the effort I put forth was successful, it felt more like luck than skill.
My second goal proved to be more challenging. I wanted to see if I could break more clays than I missed in twenty-five attempts. It wasn’t until I received the proper instruction, networked with others and practiced repeatedly that I was able to do it. I was building faith and eliminating doubts.
This is my third goal: to be perfect. I want to break all twenty-five clay target in a single round. To even have a chance at attaining perfection I needed to examine every aspect of my approach to the sport. These include my stance, contending with different weather conditions, properly leading the target, keeping my head affixed to the stock, keeping my feet still, taking my time, etc. Each time I mastered one element I discovered there was something else I needed to contend with. As part of this process, I have honed good habits and eliminated bad ones. I have been pursuing this goal for over two years. Over time my scores have inched closer to perfection. I have broken 23 and 24 targets a handful of times. Each time I am inspired to try harder, to try it again.
How many of us claim to have a relationship with God yet keep it a secret? Why do we keep our faith sealed up inside us? Most likely its because talking about God, especially His son Jesus Christ is becoming a divisive subject in today’s culture. Do we love God enough to mention something about our faith to a friend in casual conversation?
The second point I want to make is how committed are we to our faith? If we love God as much as we say, we should be working towards perfecting that faith. Are we seeking instruction, networking with fellow believers and attempting to put into practice those things that will strengthen our faith? Are we willing to eliminate everything from our life that hinders us from perfecting our faith? I am constantly reminding myself that I need to put as much time and energy into perfecting my faith that I do a favorite pasttime. (Hebrews 12:1-3; Matthew 5:43-48; James 3:2)