When I think back over all the memories of Christmas from my childhood, I recall some pretty good times. There have been priceless moments with my family that I’ll remember for as long as I live. Still, there is one memory that creeps up every year that continues to serve as a reminder of the year I failed to remember the reason for the season.
I wish I could say I was younger in age at the time, but I was actually somewhere around the pre-teen years…11 years old…maybe 12. Several years had passed since I completed the hunter safety course in my state and I had massacred every bird, squirrel, and neighbor’s cat that crept within BB gun range of my yard. So on this year, a 20-gauge shotgun was on my list. And somehow despite the steep price-tag, my parents had led me to believe I was getting my first big-boy gun. However, on Christmas morning, as I rushed into the living room well before the sun ever began to shine, there was no shotgun to be found. I saw the underwear, socks, shirts, and other annual gifts, but no shotgun had been left behind. I was devastated! I was mad at the world! I marched back up to the room I shared with my brother. I woke him up and said, “You got what you want for Christmas, but I didn’t get squat!” I then crawled back into bed, pulled the covers over my head and threw quite the pity party for myself.
As the rest of the family began to wake up to Christmas morning, my older sister stormed into my room and as a loving big sister would, said, “Get out of bed you stinkin’ brat! You got what you wanted, you just didn’t look hard enough for it!!!” With that, I was flooded with the emotions of excitement and complete embarrassment all at the same time. I felt like such a fool walking into that living room after my selfish display of how I thought Christmas ought to go.
Many years have passed, but I’ve never forgotten my sister’s words. “You got what you wanted, you just didn’t look hard enough for it.” The truth is many of us are guilty of this very thing year after year. We fail to remember that the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the Savior. Jesus is the reason for the season! He is what we are looking for…he is what we are longing for…but sometimes we miss Him because we simply aren’t looking hard enough for Him. We are caught up and distracted by other things and the reason for the season blows right past us.
Don’t miss it this year! He is the Reason!
Alone in the Woods
by Brodie Swisher
Late season deer hunts often lend themselves to be a cold and lonely experience. It’s often feast or famine at this time of the season. If you have the luxury of hunting late-season food plots in December and January, you are likely in for a lively show. However, when hunting the timber on a cold, snowy day, deer sightings can often be few and far between. I remember such hunts where it seems as if there’s not another living creature in the world. The hours go by and not a critter stirs. No deer, no birds, not even a squirrel! It can be a lonely and depressing feeling. It’s on these days that I have to remind myself, “Things will get better.” Maybe not today, or even in the remainder of the season, but I rest in the fact that at the proper time, things will change. Better days in the woods are sure to come.
I can’t help but think of friends and family that seem to be going through the same feelings and emotions in life. My sweet little sister, Jessica, is battling cancer once again and I have several friends in the midst of marital messes. For them, it is no doubt a dark and dreary place to be. I know they are often overwhelmed with the emotions of feeling alone. I’m sure there are days when it seems as if even God has distanced Himself from them. It’s on such days that we can only trust in the promise that we are not alone.Watch what the Bible says in Deuteronony 31:6…”Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail your nor abandon you.”
That’s good stuff! We can hang on to that promise! We can only trust that at the proper time, things will change. It may not be today or tomorrow. It may not even be in this season of life. But for those that have the hope of Christ, better days are sure to come.
Do you have that hope? If not, shoot me an email…we’ll talk.
by Brodie Swisher
The end of the whitetail rut signals a time for new challenges and something different in the hunting woods. It’s at this time I often switch gears and begin chasing the ducks and geese that winter or migrate through our part of the country. Recently, after finding a good supply of ducks using some backwater sloughs off the river, I made plans to set up for a morning of hunting mallards. Unfortunately, December in Montana often finds the shallow backwaters freezing up pretty quick. After just one successful hunt with open water, my return trips found me having to break ice to open up the hole. With each trip, the ice formed thicker and thicker. I surrender the season on this particular duck hole when I could finally stand on top of the ice, now too hard to break through.
Have you been there before? Not on a slab of ice, but in life? Have you struggled to break through? In Mark chapter 8 of the Bible, we find the disciples squabbling over “who forgot the bread.” Jesus knew what they were arguing about and He says, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes – can’t you see? You have ears – can’t you hear? Don’t you remember
anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many
baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?” (Mark 8:17-19)
Much like the disciples, we too can be hardened in heart and fail to see all the miraculous
things God has done – and is doing – for our lives. In such times we struggle to hear from Him, we overlook the visible ways He is moving in our lives, and we offer prayers that seemingly never leave our lips. We have become hard. Our hearts and minds shut down to the greatness of what God wants to accomplish in our lives. Left unguarded, a breakthrough becomes all but impossible. But God wants this season to pass. He wants us to breakthrough and return once again to the place where we can hear, see, and speak his goodness and glory.
Do you find your heart becoming hard? Break on through!
Let' em Walk
by Brodie Swisher
On a recent hunt for whitetail deer in the river-bottoms of western Montana, I watched as a young buck cruised through the woods in search of a willing doe. He had his nose to the ground and seemed to be on a relentless pursuit of romance. I quickly grabbed my calls from my pack and belted out the sounds of other deer in an attempt to bring this buck closer. It was more than the buck could take. In the low light of early morning the buck made his way right to my stand. When he walked into and through my shooting lane at just 8 yards, I thought to myself, “Let ‘em walk.” The buck had obviously not reached his potential. There were greater things to come from this deer. He would grow bigger, better, and would one day be all that his Maker had intended for him. He had walked dangerously close to death…but on that day, I
let him walk.
I also have a friend that recently came dangerously close to death after a
tumble down the side of a mountain. My buddy, Allen James, and his two hunting partners slid on some ice while coming down a mountain road and went over the edge. Their truck rolled 100 yards down the mountain. Allen was ejected from the truck halfway down the hill. His body was broken and bruised, but he survived. In the days following the accident, the words “He should be dead!” came from paramedics, doctors, family, and friends. The truth is God let ‘em walk. Allen is exactly where God planned for him to be. God could have easily taken Allen’s life on the mountain that day, but instead, He let him walk. You see, there is no doubt in my mind that God wants to do even bigger things in Allen’s life. The
Lord sees more potential in Allen, and He’s obviously not done with him yet. God’s got a greater purpose and plan to come in Allen’s life in the days ahead. Greater things are yet to come.
So what about us? Have you ever narrowly escaped death’s grasp? Have you ever wondered, “Why am I still here?” or “What’s my purpose?”I can say with confidence, God indeed has a plan for your life. He’s not done with you yet. With every breath we breathe and every beat of our heart, God is letting us walk. The question is….are we walking with Him?“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
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.