Side Roads, Snares, and Souls is a beautiful collection of stories from the swamps interwoven with spiritual reflections and biblical passages by Bradley Antill.
Bradley Antill was an outsider, and the timberlands of southeastern North Carolina did not go easy on him when he started in the timber business, but when the swamps finally took him as one of its own, Antill made the most beautiful discovery of all—fingerprints of God in plain sight.
Home to all sorts of insects, poisonous snakes, passing bears, and other creatures of the wild, Green Swamp, a massive industrial and natural forest, was a toxic, hostile environment. Antill himself was not a happy camper. His day-to-day activities revolved around mud and more mud. Some briars went as far as the eyes could see and blown-over trees he had to deal with. The sweltering heat made his job almost unbearable, and without modern conveniences like apps and Google Earth, navigating the swamps was a daily requirement he did not look forward to—especially when it came time for lunch. Even with a hand-drawn map, it was easy to get stuck, lost, or out of gas within the vast expanse of the swamps. The buzzards overhead offered no comfort at all.
However, Antill stuck to the swamps, painstakingly learning the roads, laboring through his numerous tasks, celebrating victories of all sizes, learning, little by little, that the marshes were not a place he needed to conquer. In the process, he dug deep into himself and drew strength and inspiration from his faith and from the Bible, fully experiencing his spiritual journey, “one that has become stuck to the mud at times, has been afraid of the gathering darkness, and uncertain of the path ahead.” When he learned to quiet his anxious thoughts, nature spoke to him about its secrets. When he learned to open his mind and see with his heart, the swamps revealed glimpses of God and his amazing grace.
Life too can be full of swamps, full of side roads and snares waiting for its next unknowing victim, but as Antill discovered, deliverance can happen no matter how the sticky or impossible the situation. When we pause for introspection or seek the Bible to be our guide, as Antill did, we are halfway through winning difficult situations. Indeed, there is no greater strength than the one that springs from faith.
Side Roads, Snares, and Souls by Bradley W. Antill
Reviewed by Vera Hanley
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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Note from the Author:
As a professional forester for over thirty years, I have worked in the forests and swamps of the Southeastern Coastal Plains. It is more than a job; it is a calling, a whisper in the wind that gets me out of bed and off to enjoy whatever adventure the day may bring. Managing timber harvests, overseeing tree planting, and following maps both ancient and modern across unknown terrain−no day is exactly the same. The obstacles come in the form of weather and insects, snakes, and bears. The frustration usually comes in the form of a beaver. I have been a Jesus-follower since I was a child. Faith is easy to accept when you are a child when it is offered by those who love you. It increases in difficulty as one grows older. The aging process has caused me to dig deeper into the foundations of that faith, to seek to have a relationship with Christ that is alive and growing. For me, God has done that in the forests and swamps where I daily work. My writings are an attempt to share those meetings, times when the truth of the Creator shine forth in the nature He created, to do it with a sense of humor and awe. My best friend in all of this is my wife, Cindy. We have been together since we met in junior high school, and she shares my passion for the Creator as well as the creation. We have raised a family, and enjoy our grandchildren, and we look forward to new ways to share the love found only in Jesus. I am a graduate of The Ohio State University, with a degree in Forestry Management, a member of the Society of American Foresters, a member of North Carolina Trapper’s Association, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. My wife and I live in North Carolina.