The Unpredictability of the Wild

One of the risks you take when you spend time outdoors is running into wildlife. Most of the time it’s no big deal because the wildlife you run into is likely more afraid of you than you are of them. Deer, turkey, usually skunks, racoons, or other such creatures. One exception would be wild boar. Those critters are just plain mean and are best avoided. I’ve only run into them once. Fortunately our encounter was from a distance where, although they saw us, we were too far away to be interesting.

Other wildlife is a bit more problematic. I recall being in a lake in Colorado with my son Philip when an elk came up behind us. I think we were standing in his favorite drinking spot and we had nowhere to go. Further into the lake there was a deep ledge and although we both wore waders we decided not to risk it. The way back to shore was blocked by the huge monstrosity of an animal, so, we raised our arms and got loud (don’t know if that’s what your supposed to do). The elk wasn’t intimidated and went nowhere, so we decided to  pretend like we didn’t care if he was there or not. We were trapped so, what else could we do? We just kept fishing (caught 250 greylings that day). Fortunately I think he got bored watching us and found himself a new drinking spot. He was a intimidating, to say the least.

Bears, however, are in a totally different category when it comes to wildlife. I’ve run into them on several occasions, but usually from a safe vantage point. While backpacking in the Smokies one time I stayed in a lean-to that had a fence for bear protection. About 2 o’clock in the morning I was awakened by a hungry bear looking for snacks. She was four feet from us and was able to reach her paw in to try for my backpack but the fence kept her out. On another occasion I was on the Cache la Poudre river in Northern Colorado when I looked downstream and saw what looked like a rather big dog. I decided to put my glasses on after which I discovered it was a bear, not a dog. But he wasn’t interested in me and just moved on up the mountain, stopping now and then to look at me. I suppose he was debating about how I might taste, but, alas, he kept moving.

The most frightened I’ve been, though, was on a smaller stream in that same area a few years later. I was down an embankment looking upstream when I heard some noise. I looked across the stream to see a black bear running toward me full steam. And I responded just like you shouldn’t respond to a bear. I turned and ran yelling to my friend as I took off. The only bright thing I did was to keep my expensive rod in my hand instead of throwing it down. I figured that all I had to do was to out run my friend. But he very calmly asked where I saw the bear and when I turned to point to the beast, I discovered that Yogi never even knew I was there.  When he heard me yell “bear!” he stopped in his tracks to discover the source of the commotion. He decided we weren’t worth the effort and ran away.

The stories I have accumulated over the years all add to my love for the outdoors. Sometimes being outside can be scary. It is an untamed world out there and life can be quite quite unpredictable. Nevertheless I am always comforted to remember that God is in complete control. He, too isn’t predictable and certainly can’t be contained, but Scripture describes how, though he is dangerous, he is good. We have to be careful not to allow what happens in the world to dictate our opinion of Him. Sometimes circumstances tempt us to think God is unfair or harsh or the opposite, like a sweet old grandfather. He is neither. He is to be feared like you would a raging waterfall. The waterfall is amazing and beautiful, but you would never just jump into it. You would respect it while you admire it’s beauty. Proverbs tell us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

So, as we live in this unpredictable world, it is wise to live in it wisely, but always looking up to the God who created it. There is none like him. In the words of Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he isn’t safe, but he’s good.

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