I really wish I had known then what I know now. 

Due to current restrictions and the fact I am at extremely high risk, I have not been able to leave the house and go fishing. As a result I am have recycled this column from a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy this one again. I hope to get back on the water soon.  -- JLS

The mountains unfolded around me; a palette of colors. A light breeze from the north kissed the meadow grass in the basin.

The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the golden grass in the mountain park was dappled. I scarcely gave it a glance.

I wish then, I knew what I know now.

“In every wind that blows, in every night and day of the year, in every sign of the sky and in every withering of the earth, there is a real coming of God if we will simply use our starved imagination to realize it,” O. Chambers

Somewhere, back in the aspens, hidden by the quaking golden leaves, a bull elk bugled.

Across the meadow, where the grass was short, he stepped out.

I failed to really understand what was taking place. I thought only of the approach, the stalk.

“If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in Nature,” O.C.

I wish then, I had known what I know now.

On the low end of the meadow, a small pond twinkled in the sun, earlier, just after dawn that morning, snow had dusted the oak brush and the elk and mule deer were moving, feeling it.

Everything looked cold and we hurried through the brush, sweeping it aside with hardly a thought.

I wish then, I had known what I know now.

Often, I have been fortunate to see scenes many people only see in magazines.

I have laid on my belly as a herd of cow elk walked within 10 feet of me. I have gently, with the toe of my boot, pushed a bear cub to keep him from crawling in my lap.

I have had small birds and once a screech owl try to light on my shoulders or the limb of my compound bow. I have watched the northern lights paint and spackle the Canadian sky.

So many things.

Frequently, words have come to me without a thought as to where they came from.

How I wish I had known then, what I know now.

I can’t count the innumerable, fantastic things I have witnessed or been a part of without once, giving real thought to how or why or who caused them to happen.

I have looked on glaciers and seen the bare ground they left behind and not given a thought to their inexorable movement or when or how or why they…well, why they were.

I have lived through experiences that should have killed me…several times.

I gave no thought to why I survived, just assumed I had cheated death-again.

I really wish I had known then, what I know now.

You see, sometime around 2012, I don’t know the exact day, I found God.

For my entire life, prior to that, I had not given him more than a passing thought.

I had simply sinned, accepted it and moved on.

Over the next four years, I became increasingly aware of just how terrible my life was and how awesome He is.

He delivered me from the bonds of alcoholism and so much more. It slowly sank in on me, what great works of His art I had seen and what Miracles He had performed.

It saddened me to think of how casually I had taken so much of my life, how little credit I had given anyone but myself.

I am sure, somewhere out there, someone is reading this and thinking, “That is just how I feel.”

That is why I am writing this. You are not alone. I am also sure, someone is saying, “I don’t want to read that God stuff.”

I know just how you feel, too.

My life is different, now. I don’t just shrug off another sunrise from the front of the boat. I thank the Author and take time to appreciate what He is doing.

I realize, He must have a plan for me or I would not be alive. I know now, when the burden becomes too heavy, I can turn it over to Him.

Usually, all it takes is a walk in the woods or an hour or two in the boat. Most days, at some point, I wonder why?

What is His plan for me and why am I still here?

On more than a few occasions, the opportunity has been there for me to not have survived.

Just in the last nine years, I can easily recall at least four times I should not have survived.

But I am alive and probably, I am more alive than I have ever been. I know there must be a reason and maybe it is so I can share these words with someone who badly needs them.

But I wish I had given it more thought on those mornings when the snow glistened on the peaks and the elk and mule deer were moving through the aspens.

I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get to the meadow or across a stream with water so cold it hurt your teeth and so clear you could count the grains of sand on the bottom.

I wish I had known then, what I know and believe, now.

I wish I had realized just what a great education the outdoors was giving me. I wish I had known just how much more there was. I wish I had listened sooner to those who tried to steer me right.

Most days, now, I start differently than I did then.

Every day, I start with a word or two with Him and often, I spend time studying his word and learning to appreciate His work.

I know it is not too late. I know there is still much to learn, much to see. I know my many sins are forgiven, that burden lifted.

And I know all the beautiful scenes I see today are His work and I appreciate them more.

I know I am still a sinner, always will be as long as I am alive.

But I am a work in progress. I know He must have a plan for me.

Otherwise, I know, I would not be here.

I know there is time, time for me to take those minutes with Him.

To, “Learn to associate ideas worthy of God with all that happens in Nature,”O.C.

I just wish I had known it sooner.

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