Western Montana is a smokin’ place right now as some 4-6 wildfires continue to burn across the landscape. At times, the mountains have hardly been visible because of the smoke that seems to fill the valley in which we live. These fires start from a number of different causes. Be it lightning strikes, exhaust sparks from a vehicle traveling close to dry vegetation, chainsaws at work, controlled burning that got out of hand, and the list goes on. Several years ago, a fire got to blowin’ and goin’ a little too close to one western Montana community. Some 600 acres were burned before the fire was finally contained. The culprit in this fire? Two boys playing with matches. One spark turned into lives being at risk, homes potentially being burned to the ground, and a beautiful landscape blackened. The firefighters that work to control these fires would be quick to tell you that the best way to control such fires is to never let that first spark start.
I often think about the messes we make throughout our lives that could have been controlled by avoiding that first spark. The things that seem so small and insignificant quickly swell into a life altering fiasco that leaves us with devastating consequences. A verse that should be constantly on our hearts is Proverbs 6:27. “Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned?” Hey, if you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned! It’s straight out of God’s word! We must avoid that first spark. The spark of temptation is always looking for a place to ignite and then quickly fan into a wildfire burning out of control. Don’t play with it! Don’t go there! Never give it the opportunity to ignite in your life. The consequences of playing with fire can leave us with ruined relationships and a life that has been blackened by the sin of just one spark….just one spark.
I’m a big fan of hunting at ground level from a blind. I love the eye-level encounters that come when I quietly sit concealed within my ground blind. I’ve had buddies ask, “How can you get animals so close when you’re hunting in such a big box-looking blind?” My answer…stay hidden. Concealment is the key. Go undetected. It became apparent just how close I can get to critters this past spring while bear hunting in Idaho. I shot a big bear that walked past my ground blind at just 4 yards. He had no clue I was in the world because of the extra steps I took to brush my blind and stay hidden. Make a commitment to concealment and when animals look in your direction, they’ll never see you.
I know it sounds a little crazy, but our lives should also be hidden. Throughout God’s word, we continually see references to the fact that people ought to be able to see past us, and on to God’s glory. Our good works, actions, deeds, and efforts should not be intended to rain praise on ourselves, but to point directly to who God is and to bring Him glory. Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
What are the motives for doing the things you do? Have you come to the point where you have died to self and are now concealed in Christ? Stay hidden in Christ and you will share in the awesome glory that is due Him.
For many years now, I’ve found the preparation for hunting season nearly as exciting as the hunt itself. With great anticipation I prepare for this long awaited time when I can once again return to the woods in search of the critters I’ve dreamed about all year long. And as most hunters would attest, the greatest part of the pre-season ritual is messin’ with our gear. New gear…old gear…it really doesn’t matter. Hunters simply love gear. Each year we pull out the “must-have” items that we would never leave home without. They are the essentials for every hunt. But every year we seem to add a few items to the bag of tricks that may help tip the odds for success in our favor, or simply make our hunt more enjoyable. Binoculars, rangefinder, game calls, water, food, scent attractants, shelter, books, and a pile of other gadgets and gimmicks. Some you wouldn’t hit the woods without, while others do nothing more than weigh you down. There have been a number of times over the years when I pulled an item of gear from my pack and tossed it aside because it was not one of the essentials for the quest I was on. It may have appeared like a necessity at the time, but further down the trail I realized it was simply more weight, more bulk, and it was slowing me down.
There comes a time in life when we have to examine ourselves. We have to come to grips with the things in our lives that are essentials and those that hinder our journey. We often carry around a lot of baggage from the past, as well as the bulk of worrying about tomorrow. God would love nothing more than to see you lay those things aside. Put away the “stuff” that weighs you down and hinders the journey you’re on. His word says this very thing in Hebrews 12:1….”Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
What is the baggage and bulk in your life that is keeping you from running the race God has set you on? Is there sin in your life that may have appeared good at the time, but has since become a barrier to God’s plan for your life? Lay those things down and run the race with endurance today!
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.