“There’s a bear coming!”
I barely looked up from my sketch pad to the man that was careening towards us.
“Yeah, right,” I muttered. “Like there’re any bears around here.”
“A bear?” came high squeaky voice.
“Shh.” I shook my head at the small girl next to me. “It’s okay. Which color should we paint the flowers?”
The man was almost on us. “Run! Hide!”
“Aw, quit trying to scare us. We know there are no bears anywhere around here.”
“It’s a bear, I tell you!”
“I doubt it. Maybe you saw a bush. It is a bit windy today.” I studied my drawing.
“Believe what you want. I know what I saw.” He reached out and grabbed me.
“Ow, let go! You’re going to pull my arm right off!”
“Better your arm than your head if you’re still here when the bear gets here. And think of your little girl!”
The man’s eyes were wide open with eyebrows almost reaching his hairline, and his face was as white as the pages in my sketch pad. Um… even if he didn’t see a bear, he definitely saw something. But grabbing me?
“Suit yourself! Hide or don’t hide. Your choice,” he called over his shoulder as he ran towards the trees on the opposite side of the clearing from where he entered.
I looked around the campsite. A few tents scattered here and there, hiking gear set out on picnic tables, and a gazebo. If I wanted to hide from a bear, where would I go? I couldn’t just run into the woods after that man. My daughter wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I couldn’t carry her very far. The trees wouldn’t be any better. Even if I could get my daughter up one, bears can climb, too. The tents offered no protection should the bear follow its nose instead of its eyes. The only thing left was the gazebo – a wooden structure with three steps leading up…wait!
“Come on! I know where we can hide!”
I grabbed my daughter and ran to the gazebo. Yes, just what I hoped for!
“Quick, in there.” I pushed my daughter into the opening of the crawl space under the gazebo. Trying to hurry her, I backed in so I could watch for whatever the man had seen. And then I saw it.
Not only was it a bear, it was a very large grizzly bear. It was carrying a rifle and coming straight towards me. Dang, that bear moved fast! I grabbed a long branch that was lying nearby and held it out as if it were a spear. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.
As I waited, I had time for two thoughts. Would the gazebo have really offered safety? Couldn’t the bear just reach right through the holes in the boards? And where did it get the rifle? Maybe from a ranger?
Just as the bear reached me, it slowly toppled until it lay still on the ground. Dead.
Then the pieces came together – that bear must have taken the rifle from the ranger it attacked, but not before the ranger got a few rounds into the bear. The bear was so big; it took a while for the rest of the body to know it was dead.
Isn’t that just like our problems? We see disaster coming. Fear rises up in us and we run or hide without realizing that our Father has already shot the beast. Even if that beast continues towards us, it will topple over before it reaches us. We are safe.