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Bear Country

Updated: Mar 6, 2022

My wife Maggie and I recently celebrated 20 years of marriage in the Canadian Rockies. One day we decided to take a ride up a ski lift that was operating in the summer as a sightseeing ride, one in which you might see wildlife.

The operators told us that the best time to see wildlife would be in the mornings and evenings. So, we took their advice and went up the slope one morning. We saw lots of wildflowers and breathtaking mountain views, but no wildlife.

At the top of the lift, there was an electric fence with a door that had a warning sign: “Bear Country.” We found out from the staff that you could go through the gate, carefully touching only the blue sections so you wouldn’t get shocked, and take a hike around the side of the mountain up to a peak where you had a 360 degree view of the area and wonderful sights such as Lake Louise, etc.

Well, that was all I needed to hear! “Let’s go,” I told Maggie. However she read the rest of what was posted on nearby signs: walk in groups of no fewer than six and carry bear spray. She said she would hike if I purchased the bear spray and we fell in with a group of other hikers. I assured her we would not see a bear and of course since I was too cheap to buy a can of $40 bear spray we went back down the lift.

We drove to see the outstanding Columbia Icefield (we don’t have one of those in Texas) and then on our way back, since our pass was good for two trips, decided to take a late afternoon return trip on the lift. Wouldn’t you know? Waiting for us as we got off the lift was a grizzly bear just beyond the very gate I had only hours before tried to convince Maggie to go through unprepared!

Signs. They are put up to warn, inform, and market. They are easy to read, but the true test is in what you do with the message. I was ready to ignore a warning sign to our peril and yet my faithful bride simply read it and took its contents to heart.

The Lord does a good job of putting up signs for our lives in the Scriptures. Some say “Watch out!” and others say “Taste and see!” The question is what will we do about God’s signs to us?

I heard a popular, Christian author and pastor speak a few years back. He told us that life was all about the journey, not the destination. He told us that we should explore every path. Really? What if some of those paths have stop signs? What if God, in His infinite wisdom, inserted in the Bible real life tales of people who caused much harm to themselves and others by ignoring His signs? Do I really need to explore those paths?

Should I be listening to a smooth talker extol the virtues of a piece of nice looking fruit that I was told not to eat? Should I be wandering on my rooftop scanning my neighbors’ balconies when I should be off at war? Should I look the other way when someone close to me wants to begin a romantic relationship with another of the same gender? Should I encourage someone to drink to excess to help them forget about a terrible experience? Seriously?

God has been very gracious to provide us with His Word. Sixty-six books replete with signs showing us how to live a life pleasing to Him. The real question is, will we read a sign and say, “Hey, bear country, let’s go!” or will we say, “Bear country? Better prepare for that hike, we just may encounter a grizzly.”

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