“Did you hear that?”
“I heard something… Tell me what it sounded like.”
“Kinda like Dad snoring, only bigger, and then sniffing… There it is again!”
“Yep, that’s what I’ve been hearing too.”
“What do you think it is? Is it a bear?”
“Maybe.” Actually, I was pretty sure that’s exactly what it was.
My daughter’s hushed whispers seemed loud in the deep stillness of the night. It was probably 3am – long after all the campers had extinguished their campfires and put out their lanterns. Although there was a stunning display of stars in the vast and open sky, there was no moon to shed light in our darkness. I couldn’t see my daughter’s face, but the fear in her voice was obvious.
The park ranger had warned us that there was a “highly active bear in the area,” so we had followed all the precautionary advice to the letter. Our food, and coolers, and our trash were safely stowed in the truck, so I was fairly certain that our visitor would move on when his search for treats in our campsite proved fruitless. Still, the thought of this large and untamed animal only a few feet from my children and me was very disconcerting.
“Can I lay with you Mom?” my daughter whispered.
“Sure honey.” I was relieved to have her company on my side of our little pop-up camper, especially since my husband would not be joining us until the next day.
My younger daughter lay snoozing contentedly, oblivious to the uneasiness that kept the rest of us from sleep. I was more than a little envious of her.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Now? Mom! You have the worst timing!”
“Don’t I know it.”
We hadn’t heard anything for several minutes, but the bear scare was too new to consider venturing out of the camper.
“Do you want me to go with you?” my daughter offered bravely.
“That’s sweet, but then your sister would be here alone. No, I’ll wait.”
So I waited.
I passed a few rather uncomfortable hours waking and dozing, long after any evidence of our visitor was last heard. Finally, the sun peaked over the mountaintops, and I put on my shoes and made my way to the bathroom in the chill of the early morning.
Once again I had allowed myself to be bullied by my own fear.
It occurred to me, during those hours of half-sleep, that fear has often been a bully in my life. So many times I have allowed fear to hold me back. I have listened to its all-too-rational-sounding voice telling me to wait, or to let someone else step forward, or to keep my mouth shut.
I see it as no coincidence that God brought to my mind these thoughts about fear and its bullying influence in my life. As he so often does, he has been using many avenues in concert to drive this point home lately: conversations, observations, Bible readings, song lyrics, and sermons. For too long I have been too fearful to step out in faith to live boldly for Jesus. I have been timid. I may say that I am not ashamed to be known as a disciple of Jesus, but does my living and does my speaking shine for Jesus in front of others?
It’s time. Now. Not tomorrow, or next week, or after I get the house cleaned, or get some of our debt paid down. It’s time.
With God on my side, fear need no longer bully me into inaction. I need to reflect the love of Jesus to every single human being I encounter, in every way I can. If I believe it, I need to live it. Starting now. It’s time.