Lions and Christians and Bears...Oh My!

I saw four bears last week, and they reminded me of God.  

In celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary, Christine and I left the kids with their grandparents and went to the mountains for a week. We stayed in a cabin in Southwest Colorado with cool weather, gorgeous views, mule deer visits every morning, and lots of portly, furry, shy bears. Each time we spotted a bear, he (or she) was alone munching something near the dirt road to our cabin. And each time, he looked at us lazily and then turned and ambled away, not so much afraid of us as disinterested. One of the bruins waddled a few yards away from us and then stopped, put his huge, clawed paws on a fallen log, and starting ripping the wood to shreds. I wasn’t sure whether he was digging for bugs to eat or aggressing to warn the camera-clicking suburbanites behind him. Either way, it was impressive.  

There was something about the bears’ attitudes that reminded me of another animal I met a year ago. Last summer, our family visited our sponsored children in Tanzania and we squeezed in a safari before returning home. We managed to get very close to several lionesses. They were even more impressive than the bears.  

Every other animal in the Colorado forest or the African plain acts like prey. Whitetail and wildebeest, elk and kudu all perk up their ears, scan about for danger, and scamper away at the sight of humans. But not the lions. They barely bothered to wake up. Our roaring, two-ton, eight-cylinder, four-wheel-drive hunk of steel garnered no more than a flick of the tail from the queens of the jungle. They were neither impressed nor intimidated. Lions and bears have no natural predators, and their attitude shows it. 

And that’s why they remind me of God.  

We Christians tend to get worked up about all manner of religious predators. We organize and outreach, we get the word out and get the vote out, we check our references and tune our itching ears to the latest internet-fueled rage as if it’s open season on our breed.  

But God doesn’t.  

Isaiah 66:1-2 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Heaven is my throne and the Earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me, or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord. ‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.’" 

While we worry and retreat, stot and flag, the Lion of Judah watches patiently and peacefully. He ponders whether to flick away everything we know with one swish of his tail. I think we would do well to consider his attitude.  

Too often, we Christians behave as if our herd is in danger and our worry is righteous. But neither is true. As long as we are with the King, we are safe in the most transcendent meaning of the word. We have no reason to fear.  

Which is more than I can say for the camera-clicking suburbanites in my car last week.