January 25, 2013

This is what the Lord says: “Seek Me and live.”  Amos 5:4

Perhaps you’ve been reading in the paper or online about the python hunt in the Everglades. It’s illegal to hunt in the national parks, but the search for these snakes that is currently taking place (and runs to February 10) on state lands surrounding Everglades National Park definitely affects it.

I talked about these invasive, non-native creatures in a previous blog post, and the problem has gotten worse since then. Over 1,800 have been removed since 2002, according to the park’s website, yet it’s estimated there are thousands more, and the Park Service is constantly searching for better methods to control the population.

As of Friday, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is conducting the Python Challenge, 30 of the huge pythons have been caught and disposed of. (Just how big are they? The largest one ever found weighed 164.5 pounds, was 17-feet-6-inches long and had 87 eggs, notes an article on CNN’s website; last year, officials discovered a 76-pound deer in the stomach of one).

Now perhaps you’re wondering how one goes about capturing and killing a Burmese python. To compete in the challenge, hunters had to take an on-line training course in which they were instructed in, among other things, how to identify the snakes and euthanize them in a humane way. And here’s the incentive (aside from environmental): The grand prize for the person who kills the most pythons is $1,500; $1,000 goes to the one who bags the longest one in the contest’s two categories, the general competition and the python permit holders competition. Roadkill, it should be noted, doesn’t count.

As humans, we imagine we’re the hunters, not the hunted. In reality, we’re both. “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” the apostle Peter warns (1 Peter 5:8). But we are pursued by Someone greater than a fearsome animal (1 John 4:4)—a tender and merciful God who woos us with boundless love (Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16, Romans 5:8), infinite patience (2 Peter 3:9) and great kindness (Romans 2:4). He seeks us out no matter how far we’ve strayed (Luke 15:3-32), to help and support us in whatever circumstances we’re in (2 Chronicles 16:9). When we hunt for Him, He’s right there (Jeremiah 29:12-14).

The Everglades python hunt only lasts a month. Only three prizes will be awarded. For God hunters, however, the rewards are not only here and now (Philippians 2:14, Psalm 16:11); they’re out of this world (Revelation 22:12)!

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