My husband and I were just approaching the trailhead when I saw the sign. Again. WARNING: BEAR FREQUENTING AREA. The weight of impending doom settled on my soul and my mind launched in with its barrage of questions. How many bears? Is it one or a mama with cubs? How long ago? Is it a black bear or a griz? Has it been hanging around in the area or was it just passing through?
Occasionally the sign will answer one of those questions with a date, a description, or a number. Most of the time, though, it’s just a statement of fact. At some point, somebody reported at least one bear near this trail. Everything else remains unclear.
As is, for me, what to do with this information.
Am I supposed to retreat and take another trail? Proceed with caution? Give up and stay inside? What message is this sign supposed to communicate? I had no idea.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone.
A few years ago, in an effort to clear up the confusion, the National Park Service created a new sign. Situated on a red banner above a graphic of a bear, it boldly declared: BEAR ATTACK! Are You Prepared to Avoid One?
“Why no,” I thought. “I’m not.”
To be clear, we carry bear spray and wear the bells and do the things we’re supposed to do, but I’m not prepared. Not really.
Though ominous, this sign left me with no unanswered questions. No dread. No sense of doom. Somewhere between the shocking inquiry and the small print it gave me exactly enough information to wake me up to what I already knew: Yellowstone is bear territory. Travel wisely.
Life Lessons from Yellowstone
Because God is faithful to teach me more about living by faith by walking in Yellowstone’s woods, it didn’t take long for a lesson to surface: Not only do I set off on the trail vaguely worried and unprepared, I live my life the same way.
Maybe you can identify. And whether it’s for the attacks God’s word says we’ll face or the tough times he says we’ll encounter, maybe you want to be more prepared.
We can be.
Even though Yellowstone’s bears can show up anywhere at any time, the small print on the sign (which we’ll explore in future posts) was clear. There are steps we can take to make sure we’re prepared for the presence of a bear whenever we leave the relative safety of the car or the crowds and walk into the woods. Those steps don’t change the nature of bear country, but they do equip us to walk in the wisest way possible.
Our life of faith is the same.
Though the landscape of our lives unfolds within enemy territory, we don’t need to walk with a sense of doom or dread. We are never alone. Jesus was clear. He will be with us until the end of the age. That’s a promise. While the nature of that territory will not change, we’ve been given what we need to walk wisely through potential attack and certain difficulty.
🧭 Let me leave you with this question: If you were to encounter an ATTACK! Are You Prepared To Avoid One? sign as you made your way through the landscape of your life today, what would your response be?
take heart & happy trails ~ Natalie 🥾