3.) Safety? I asked the waitress at a local diner when was the last time someone had been attacked by a bear? Sandy, the 70 year old waitress knew of no such incident in the area. I had 60 pounds, by estimation, on this particular bear. Even though I might be able to bench press more than him, he would certainly take me down without too much effort (these bears weren’t de-clawed like housecats). A bear is not safe, but apparently in these woods, he is good. Reminded me of Aslan in the Narnia series. Yes God is not safe, but He is good. He is not safe because He will call out and crush our idols, but He is good because that is the best thing for us.
This past weekend the lads from Redeemer hiked a mile and a half into the Cranberry River for camping/fishing trip. While the water remained lower than we would have liked, and the fish scarcer than advertised, all had a great time bonding as we braved the outdoors. My crew of folks came in on Friday around noon, just missing the Thursday night-Friday morning bear run-in’s.
Apparently the bear came in on Thursday evening and then back the next morning to climb the apple tree to gorge on some delectable little treats. Bummed that he never returned to the same spot, my friend and I made our way up to another fishing hole. He stopped and my impatience set in. I immediately headed on to try and nab a trout on a dry fly. Unfortunately for me, just 40 feet away from the same path he and I were walking on, just literally 5 minutes later, Mr. Bear came back.
He stared at my buddy, and then continued on his trek of the woods. 5 minutes and I would have seen my bear. Complete bummer.
I accepted the results of my impatience and returned to fishing, catching my first trout on a fly in 9 years. On an indescribable high from such an experience, my thoughts eventually turned to my trip back to the campsite.
Here are a few reflections:
1.) Why walk alone? When I was walking to the fishing hole with my buddy, I thought of fish to be caught and the hope that the bear would come back in the evening when our group could watch him at a safe distance. Yet we still walked the trail as dusk approached. After my trout at 8:45 pm, I didn’t walk back, I ran. Why? Because I was alone. I wasn’t scared while I was with Jason-even though he is faster than me should we have been chased. Just having someone there made all the difference. When I was alone, even those 3 hotdogs and being out of shape didn’t slow my fearful flight back. Why do we (and I) as Christians, prefer to do life alone sometimes? Why run, when we can walk and enjoy our journey with our brothers and sisters in the faith?
2.) Terms. I mentioned to everyone that I wanted to see that bear, but on my own terms. Someone asked what are your terms? When he is at a safe distance, up in a tree, while I’m on the ground, surrounded by friends, several of whom have loaded guns. I didn’t get my wish. He didn’t appear to me on my terms. But he did appear to a number of others who did not express such demands. After all, they were “his” woods (at least more so than ours).
Sometimes I think we put demands and terms upon God, and then are surprised when he doesn’t show up. We don’t experience Him the way others may because our terms usually imply what we can get out of Him: a better feeling, family, spouse, or house. God sets the terms of which we come to Him. We come to Him through His Son in repentance and faith. Consequently we experience and grow in Him the same way, through repentance and faith in His Son, repenting of our “terms.”