Know the full story before you judge

Summer is the time for camping and adventures. Over the years, I have embarked on numerous hiking adventures.

From the West Coast Trail three years ago, then last year the High Rim Trail. This summer, I decided to walk the 42-kilometre circuit of the Okanagan Mountain Park.

These epic trails never fail to teach me lessons.

The plan was to walk up to Divide Lake, down to Goodes Creek and across to Wild Horse Canyon, completing the circuit in a day.

Rucksack firmly fitted, walking poles in hand and my cheese and pickle sandwiches packed, and off I went.

Twenty km in, I twisted my knee, which certainly slowed my pace. I’m limping along the path when suddenly, a fully grown female moose appeared over the hill and galloped towards me. I stood, stunned, as she gathered speed, closely followed by her two calves.

I had heard of moose attacks. This wasn’t looking good.

Visions of being trampled flashed briefly, as I wondered what I’d done to deserve this.

I’m merely walking up the path.

What felt like a few feet away, the moose turned and ran down the slope, followed by her calves. Adrenaline took over my pain, and I ran.

Two minutes later, my wondering became clear. I ran into a group of seven hikers, with European accents, and bear bells ringing. It looked like a scene from the sound of music, combined with the ringing of Santa’s sleigh.

Unbeknownst to me, they had sent the startled moose hurtling my way.

The picture was clear; the moose wasn’t attacking; it was fleeing the noise of the small band of joyous travellers.

I had misjudged the moose and her two children. I now understood the full picture and gained a different perspective.

It reminded me yet again that one must not judge. I have found it is good to understand every situation.

Learning to understand and not the judge has saved me from much pain. It also has forced me to face my issues and prejudices.

Judgment focuses on the other person — or moose. When we judge, we are no longer motivated by the wisdom of God’s word, or the voice or the love of God in our hearts.

Instead, it is to easy to jump to conclusions and feel outraged rather than step back and look for the true picture and the right perspective.

Next time that something unexpected happens to you, that creates pain, shock and judgment, remember what Jesus said, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults — unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang.” (Luke 6:37 MSG).

Enjoy your trek, and its wild surprises.

Phil Collins is pastor at Willow Park Church Kelowna.