A couple weeks ago, Brandon Smith shared his incredible testimony about how he had become addicted to all kinds of drugs, and God used his wife, his daughter, and others in his family to draw him close and lead him to Christ. Almost 20 years later, Brandon found that his faith had become stagnant, and his life wasn’t really counting for the Lord. In the story you are about to read, Brandon shares how God got his attention by transforming a weekend trip with the boys into a long-overdue personal retreat.
It all started out as a fishing trip with my dad and some buddies. We were all set to leave at noon on Friday. Then, one by one, everyone had something come up. My dad had even been called into work. The last call came at 11 a.m. from my friend Mike saying he, too, could not make it. I said, “Okay, I am going anyway.” God knew on Monday that it was just going to be Him and me!
Mike couldn’t believe I was going by myself. My dad even called and said he and mom didn’t think I should go. I arrived at the Nantahala River at 4:00 p.m. that Friday. I set up my camp on the river and was all alone. I was nervous, intimidated, and scared.
If you know me, I am an EXTREMELY social person so to do something completely alone was not like me! As a side note here, my wife had told me a few weeks prior that I needed to go away by myself for a few days to decompress. It was funny because something had been telling me the same thing. Amazing how God gets things in motion.
Anyway, there I was at the campsite all alone, wandering around aimlessly doing things to stay busy! I decided to do some fly fishing for a couple of hours. Then I came back to fix my dinner, had a campfire, then went off to bed in my comfy little tent. Well, I had a tough time sleeping, to say the least. The ground was MUCH harder than I remembered as a teenager. I was up at 4 a.m. with lots of strange noises outside my tent. I had my gun close by just in case.
When daylight rolled around, I got up and went fishing again. I thought to myself, “This is stupid. I’m going to just fish, then go home, take my wife to dinner, then sleep in my own bed. This is just ridiculous!” Humping it down to the trail to the river I started breaking a sweat. That’s when it hit me. I was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying this. At that moment, the entire trip took a different turn and I embraced being alone and I began to enjoy the solitude. I read my Bible and a read a book a good friend had given me. I took a nap then read some more. Now, I never read books. The last one I read was Paul Revere in the seventh grade. And I never really read my Bible, except when the pastor says, “Open your Bibles,” on Sunday morning.
On Sunday, Mike showed up with a group of people at my campsite. They were all going rafting and wanted me to go. Usually, I would have jumped at the chance. But instead, I said no. I knew I was not done with my weekend. And honestly, I couldn’t wait for them to leave so I could get back to being alone. After they left I read my Bible some more, prayed, fished and read some more of my book!
I left on that Sunday at 4:30 p.m. to be home for dinner. When I left, I cried for the first 45 minutes in my truck on the ride home. I called Jennifer, my wife, and I told her how sorry I was for not loving her like she’s always loved me. I told her I was going to fix that! Then I prayed to God and told him I was sorry that since my salvation, my life had been nothing but a slap in the face to Him.
When I got home, Jennifer noticed a changed in me. She knew I was different. “You are humble,” she said. Then she added this, “You are sexy when you are humble.” Listen up, men! I think because of my job in the construction industry coupled with self-employment, I had become calloused to most things because I have had to fight for everything. I didn’t want to be that guy anymore.
The next morning I was at the gym at 6 a.m. and I sent her a text. I told her I didn’t know what was going on but that here was stirring deep in my soul and I felt that there was a big shift coming on that would change our lives. I don’t know when or where but God is about to do something. I had, and still do have, such a feeling of contentment and peace. If this is what it means to have my life aligned with God, then I get it!
After the workout, I sat in the sauna and, I had never said this aloud, but I put my hands out and cried, “God, wherever you want me to go, whatever you want me to do, I am in! I get it, God! I give up.”
Later that day, I met with a contractor and he asked me about the fishing trip. I told him it had nothing to do with fishing! I shared my story with him and he said he had noticed a change in me. And he hadn’t heard me say one curse word yet! I thought how pathetic of me as Christian and representative of Christ, but thank goodness that he noticed!
I had a chance to share my story several more times that day. And I love to tell stories! This is by far my best, because since my trip, I have had my quiet time with God daily and I’m still reading my Bible. I had been a great team player for the devil, but I QUIT! I am DONE! I’ m OUT!! God showed up that weekend and there’s no doubt in my mind that He spoke to me. My advice? Just go be alone somewhere. Man does not get to do this much in today’s world. But a century ago, it would have been normal. Go BE STILL! I have never experienced anything like it in my life. That “fishing” trip and my time ALONE with God has changed my life!!
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10