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Snipe Hunt

I grew up in the South where Snipe hunting was a rite of passage. Unfortunately for me I was a rather gullible young girl who fell for the challenge of capturing my very own snipe.

For those of you not familiar with Snipe hunting let me enlighten you. According to Urban Dictionary, Snipe hunting is:

 A North-American prank and rite of passage wherein older adolescents take younger adolescents into the wilderness for the supposed purpose of "snipe hunting." Snipes are an imaginary game bird purported to resemble quails or pheasants. Snipe hunts take place on moonless nights; the victims are provided burlap bags with which to catch the birds. The conspirators make birdcalls, throw rocks in the bushes, and urgently cry out "snipe" to make the victims believe that there are actually birds in the area. The victims don't want to be the only one who can't see the imaginary birds, so they claim to have seen them also. Pretty soon the victims have convinced each other they are surrounded by snipes and proceed to run about foolishly in search of the non-existent birds. The cycle repeats when this year's dupes become privy to the joke and then take the new victims out the following year, in search of the ever-elusive snipe.

Snipe hunting is generally harmless fun to entertain teenagers during the long summer months. But lately I feel as if I've been on a Snipe Hunt of a different kind. I've been tirelessly pursuing an elusive bird of another kind. One that has proven to be just as difficult to find as the imaginary Snipes roaming the Ozark Mountain range.


I've never really been an optimistic type. I'm always placed in the "glass half empty" category. And I struggled with depression for years. People who know me well would use some really kind words to describe me, but I don't think "joyful" has ever made the list.

Recently my friend, Jennifer, asked me if I was feeling depressed. I'm not. But I do feel like something is missing. I do feel a longing in my soul that just can't be satisfied. There is this constant feeling that there's supposed to be something... more. This something has a name, but so does the elusive Snipe. I've searched for it, but it always seems to be just beyond my grasp.

I recently learned something about Snipes that has got me rethinking joy. Snipes are real! Can you believe it? There really exists a bird called a Snipe. Now, it happens to be a water bird that lives in wet grassy spots near the shore and not in the Ozark Mountains, but it does exist. So maybe joy exists too. Maybe, like the snipe, I've just been looking in the wrong place.

Several years ago I was overcome with depression to the point of considering taking my own life. On my road to healing there were several friends who knew my struggles and committed to walk those dark days with me to find hope again. Over and over again well-meaning friends would hug me and whisper, "the joy of the Lord is your strength"(Neh. 8:10). It used to make me so mad. I had no joy. I had no strength. And I felt like a complete failure. Several months later I stumbled across another verse about joy...

                "In Your presence is fullness of joy" Psalm 16:11

I studied Psalm 16 again last night and I found myself wondering if my hunt for joy has been in the wrong place searching for the wrong thing. I wondered if I've been wandering through the woods hunting an imaginary bird instead of scanning the shoreline seeking the real thing. I wondered if maybe I had accepted that joy wasn't real. Or maybe that it was real, just not for me because my natural bent towards pessimism disqualified me from finding joy.

There are over 200 references to joy in the Bible. I haven't read all 200 verses on joy, but I have read a lot of them. And so far I haven't read anything that would disqualify me from receiving joy, other than being separated from Jesus. In John 15 Jesus is talking to His disciples about being the vine and those that belong to Him being branches grafted into Him. He said to all that abide in Him, "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

Christ's joy in me? I don't know about you, but I want that.

So... I'm going Joy Hunting.

Wanna come?



{confession: for some reason this post is really scary to me. I feel like I'm outing myself. But I really do want to learn what God has to say about joy. I'd love your thoughts on the subject, and your prayers.}