There has only been one time in my life when I thought I was going to die. Only once have I felt the extreme fear and panic you feel when you think you are facing death. It’s not like I went looking for death or ways to cheat it. I didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “Hey, I kind of want to have a near-death experience today. What should I do?” But it happened anyway.

After a relaxing trip to Whistler, BC, my husband, Brian, and I decided to stop at a few provincial parks on our drive home. We used to go hiking a lot in university and thought it would be fun to explore some new places. We both grew up on the east coast in the States, so the mountains here just blew us away and beckoned us to explore them. So we pulled over at Garibaldi Lake and were wandering around the trails when we found a beautiful river and made our way to a suspension bridge that crosses it. After taking a couple of pictures, Brian looks at me and asks, “I wonder if there are any bears out here?” Well I, being the “foreigner” to the area that I am, responded, “No. There are trails. People are in these woods. They wouldn’t make trails where there are bears…” Would they? So we brushed it off and headed back across the river toward our car. Instead of leaving then, we thought it would be cool to get down closer and explore around the water. About two minutes after Brian’s insightful question we were rounding the corner on the trail and there it was. Less than 50 yards in front of us on the trail was a big black bear munching away on something. I froze. My eyes nearly popped out of my head. “THERE’S A BEAR!” Brian whispered loudly as if I hadn’t seen it and was going to continue prancing down the trail. “Run as fast as you can!” he ordered. So without looking back I booked it out of there and headed back to the car. I know what you’re thinking, YOU DON’T RUN FROM A BEAR! You are supposed to act big and strong and scary. But no one had ever told me that! No one told me that running from bears, after startling them, makes them think you are prey and they will run after you. They will run faster than you, swim faster than you, and climb faster than you. They will get you! So we ran as fast as we could… until my toe found a root and I went flying through the air, just like the girls in a bad horror movie, wiping out at the most inopportune time. Brian kindly scooped me up and put me back on my feet and pushed me on. I didn’t stop running until I was in the car. My heart didn’t stop pounding for at least an hour. As soon as we got back to the car Brian looked at me and said, “Why didn’t we take a picture!?” All I could do was close my eyes and shake my head. And then he wanted to stop at a few more parks on the way home…

Okay, maybe that wasn’t a big deal to you, but to a girl whose only adventures had been in Wal-Mart or battling the crowds at a movie opening it was a huge deal! I really thought I was going to die. It turns out the bear didn’t even notice us; he couldn’t hear us over the river and didn’t see us because he had his back to us. And maybe it wasn’t that big of a bear… but it was still a bear! Why hadn’t anyone told me before I encountered the bear what I was supposed to do? Why did everyone wait until afterwards to warn me?

Well, if you are reading this and you have never been told about the “bears” in life, let me warn you now. There will be times when your heart is aching so bad you can’t breathe. There will be times when you feel like you’re lost in the woods and no one can find you. Or like no one is even looking for you. Things may get so bad and suck so much that you feel like death is near. But don’t run from them! They will chase you and running only makes them stronger and seem bigger than they are. If you are prepared and know what to do when you encounter a bear, you’ll be fine. If you are prepared for the bears in life, when they come along (and they will) you will be safe. I have protection; I have a way of escape, a way to deal with the bears in my life. Let me tell you about it…

Sometimes I mess up and invite trouble into my life. At times it is accidental, but from time to time I do things knowing all along that I’m not supposed to. But no matter what I do or how much I mess up, I know that I am still loved and will be taken care of. God loves me and wants the best for me. He loves me so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to take my place in the punishment I deserved for messing up. He died in my place and suffered what I was supposed to suffer. But it didn’t end there. Because Jesus is God’s Son, death couldn’t stop Him. He came back to life! When He was hanging on the cross, He was thinking about us. He knew that we would mess up, or sin, but He loved us anyway and wants something better for our lives. He died so that I could have the better life; so that I can know Him and have a real relationship with God. I know it happened 2000 years ago, but that’s just it: I know it happened. I believe that I am meant for something better.

Death is scary because we don’t know what happens next and it seems unfair. But do you ever get that feeling deep down inside that there is something more? That this life just isn’t cutting it? That it’s not enough? That’s because it’s not supposed to end at death! In this life we will encounter bears and all kinds of painful, intimidating things. But Jesus has conquered this life for us so all we have to do is trust Him to take care of us. When things get scary and we can’t find any peace, we can claim His peace as our own. When our hearts are breaking and we have no reason to laugh, His joy takes over and gives us strength. And all you have to do to get it is say the magic words, “Thank you.”


One thought on “bears

  1. Wow, what a scary experience! As I read your blog, I was running with you. So glad you got out of there safely! Have you told your mom about this? Some things are best unsaid. 🙂

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