Over the past couple years I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a couple brothers from Idaho that have come over to Montana to take part in our MT Youth Bowhunter Camps. Derek and Alex have several years between them in age, but a similar desire for many of the same things. Their passion for “shooting stuff” with their bow is quite contagious. I’ve been very impressed the last couple years to watch these young men develop their bowhunting and outdoor skills. While I’m sure these two brothers have their moments when they feel more like enemies than family, it’s encouraging to see how these two young men appear to stand together. They aren’t even old enough to drive a car, but they know what it means to encourage and equip others. They seem to grasp the need to lift one another up when they are struggling…or to “help a brother out” when life is tough. In our cut-throat culture where everyone is looking out for self, it’s refreshing to see two young men that go out of their way to make sure they got each other’s back, and do what it takes to build each other up instead of tearing one another down.
Throughout the Bible we find a number of passages referring to the need of having such relationships in our lives. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” And I love the passage from Ecclesiastes chapter four that says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”
Do you have someone in your life that sharpens you? Do you have someone that is there to help strengthen you mentally, spiritually, and physically? And are you investing those very things into the life of someone else? Every one of us needs somebody to hike the journey of life with. We need to have (and be) someone that is willing to reach out a hand and lift up a struggling brother.
Heart Shots "Outfitting the Heart of the Hunter"
My wife and I have three kids…Avery, Aidan, and Easton. All three were born on very important days. Avery/August 15 – opening day of MT Antelope season. Aidan/October 26 and Easton/October 28 – opening weekend of Montana’s general hunting season. Yes, up to this point there has been some poor planning on my part!
On Aidan’s 3rd birthday I decided it was time to begin a new tradition…birthday hunts with dad! He was thrilled! The first year was nothing more than a drive up in the mountains, eating snacks, and playing with the binoculars. However the next year I decided we’d hit the trail. Obviously these hunts aren’t designed to actually be a serious attempt at killing anything. But rather a serious attempt at making a young boy think he was on a great hunting adventure with his dad. We ate lots of snacks, watched for bears, tried to find monsters with our binoculars, and all the other typical stuff that goes on during a hunt.
Further than I expected down the trail, I heard the common command, “Carry me” from Aidan. Aidan’s little legs had finally had enough walking and he was ready for a ride. From previous adventures in the woods, I’ve learned to be ready to pack the little guys around in the woods when they need a break. I stuffed Aidan in my pack and away we went. I was tired, sweating, and stumbling my way down a rocky ridge when Aidan leaned over my shoulder and said, “We’re having fun, right dad?”
Aidan was oblivious to the fact that he was being carried through some rough country. He was simply chillin’ in the backpack, enjoying the ride. He had all the confidence in the world that his daddy wouldn’t let him fall and would safely carry him home.
I thank God that He does the same for us. Countless are the times the Lord has safely carried me through some rough and rocky roads in my life. How often I cruise through life unaware of just how close I am to falling, both physically and spiritually, yet He once again carries the burden for me. May we never take for granted the load God continues to carry for us!
“Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22
HeartShots “Outfitting the Heart of the Hunter”
Stuck In a Rut
Have you ever had one of those hunts where you found yourself wishing you’d never crawled out of the comforts of your bed on that particular morning? I’ll never forget an early season elk hunt from several years ago when, despite our best efforts, we just couldn’t get things rollin’. The trouble started as we made our way up a winding mountain road. Rain had been falling all night making the dirt road into somewhat of a controlled mudslide. I was relieved as we reached the end of the road, just a bit over the 12,000 feet mark. The driver (who will remain anonymous) killed the headlights for the last few hundred yards of the drive in an effort not to spook any elk that might have already made their way back up into the meadow below us. Without the headlights, our driver failed to see exactly where he needed to be…as well as what ruts to avoid. Deciding where to park came easy when our truck slid into an extremely deep rut. We had arrived…and we were officially stuck.
So as darkness began to change to the grey skies of morning, we contemplated our situation. While we should have been in hot pursuit of bugling bulls, we were consumed by how we were going to get the truck back on solid ground. There was a shift in focus. Instead of enjoying good times in the backcountry…we were covered in mud…doing our best not to say ugly things…trying to dig out of a rut. It was one of those mornings when I found myself wishing I’d never crawled out of bed.
How many times does a similar scenario play out in daily life? Have you been there? When despite your best efforts to enjoy good times and live life to the fullest, you seem to be stuck in a rut. A feeling of hopelessness and depression can easily set in when we lose focus on what lies ahead and become consumed with the current mess we find ourselves in. The fact is we’ll all face days in which we find ourselves stuck in a rut. It’s inevitable as we make our way through the journey of life. The good news is that God is there to lift us up from our troubles. He’s ready and able to deliver us. He’s just waiting for us to look up from our crisis, and once again focus on Him.
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2
HeartShots “Outfitting the Heart of the Hunter”
As the sun set on the final day of the 2010/2011 deer hunting season, I couldn’t help but reflect on what has been yet another exciting season in pursuit of wild game. After a lousy spring turkey and bear season, an action-packed deer season was much appreciated. I had a number of awesome encounters with whitetail deer and experienced deer behavior rarely seen by the human eye. But with the setting of the sun on the final day, I always seem to find myself with mixed emotions. It’s sad to think that the months of bowhunting for deer have finally come to a close. Yet, it’s exciting to think that the 4:30am alarm clocks will be over as well. It is truly a bittersweet time as we close the chapter on another hunting season.
Every year I go through the same ritual at the end of hunting season. A debriefing process, if you will. I evaluate what I did right, what I did wrong, as well as what could have been done better. I review the mistakes that cost me greatly, and recount the shots…there’s always too many …that missed the mark. I think about the encounters with deer that I’d like to be able to rewind and see them play out differently. A do-over…a restart…anything…just let me try it one more time! As blessed as we are to have such a long bowhunting season…it always seems to be gone before we know it.
And so it is with life. It’s happening way too fast! The different seasons of life come and go…leaving us looking back at what has been…and hopefully looking forward to what’s on the horizon. For some time now, I’ve made a practice of looking back over the day as I crawl into bed each night. I take a few moments to evaluate what I did today that will make a difference. Did I do anything today that will have an impact on the life of my wife, my kids, or others? What did I do today that brought glory to God? Sadly, there are many times when I look back and realize that I failed to “sieze the day.” There are far too many times when opportunities were before me to make an eternal difference in the lives of others…yet I blew it. Let me just re-do the day…or relive the moment…I’ll do better! But that chapter is closed…life is moving on. And while it seems that we have all the time in the world to do and be something that will make a difference…the fact is, sooner than we think, the sun will set on our lives bringing our time on earth to a close.
The verse, James 4:14, from the Bible is a reminder of how quick our season of life comes and goes. It says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like a vapor…it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”
So the next time you step outside on a chilly morning and see the breath rise from your lips…remember, that vapor is like your life. It is here for a moment, and then it’s gone. What will you do with it?
Brodie Swisher is a World Champion game caller, accomplished speaker, a notable writer, a skilled hunter, and all around down to earth guy! His travels take him across the country as a well known public speaker in the arena of outdoor events such as wildgame dinners, banquests, archery classes, and filming. Above all Brodie Swisher loves Jesus and he can't wait to share his passion for Christ with those he meets.