I had just made my way into my office and sat down, opening my Bible to the day's readings when I heard the loud voice exclaim, "Uh-oh, there is a bear in your truck!" I feel like it is safe to say that not many ministers have started out their Sunday mornings this way. But, on this day, that is how mine was to begin. So, I jumped up and ran outside to take a look. The lady who owned the truck was already 5 yards in front of me making her way to her truck. "Wait," I called, "Hold on. I will come with you!" Her reply was curt and dripping with frustration, "I am not scared of any bear!" Then under her breath she muttered, "He better not have scratched it up." I watched as the bear, most likely admiring the strength and determination of the woman running at him just as I was, jumped from the bed of the truck and made his way to the back of the parking lot. I was now closer to him and raised my hands above my head and said, "Go on bear, get on bear". If I had bear bells I would have rang them. The bear, most likely comparing my hesitancy to the courage it had just witnessed, lowered his head in a shake and made his way back into the woods. He stopped for a moment and watched us as we looked around the truck, then loped away. Returning to my office, my text to Alicia was short, "Just saw a bear."
If there is a fish out of water story to be told. Alicia, I, and the girls are living it. I have not written for a while and I am sorry for that. But, there has been so much going on and we are experiencing one event after another that is meaningful in the building of a life in Christ. Oh believe me, we are tired. We are confused. We are overwhelmed. At times, we are pretty unsure of what we have gotten into. But, always and constantly in the background, the Holy Spirit is bringing us through. Teaching us and molding us into we are to become in our town of Girdwood, Alaska. Through those gifts we build our excitement and our sense of adventure.
You have to laugh when you tell folks something you have experienced, or are experiencing, that concerns nature and they tell you how atypical that is for the area. I have written about our troubles in getting to Girdwood, but our new endeavor is a bit jarring, yet even more comical. The other night, I was reading in bed when a large moth blew by me. In the shadow of the reading light I could see it on the ceiling. Fascinated by the size of the moth, I turned on the main light to get a look at the thing. The eyes of the bat turned directly in my direction and it dropped from the ceiling flying in a frenzy around the room! I was out the door! "Alicia," I called, "do you mind helping me for a minute?" Unsure of what she was getting herself into, Alicia came up the steps and just looked at me. "Open that door," I said. She looked at the door, then looked at me, "No." She crossed her arms, "What is it?" I opened the door and showed her the bat flying around the room. We both started laughing. (After, I closed the door)
The next 30 minutes were spent in strategy building and scouring videos on YouTube telling us how to get a bat out of the house. When the time came, Alicia was in her robe, winter gloves, a hat and boots, standing on a chair at the end of the hall holding up a moving blanket. I also donned my winter gloves a sweatshirt and hat as I waved cardboard boxes into the room. The goal was to move the bat toward an open window without harming it or one of us. A quick prayer was said and a few defensive swats were made, then the bat flew out the window. We both breathed a sigh of relief. But, sleep did not come easy that night.
We had the same experience three days in a row. So, it became time to call a specialist. The specialist, surveying the droppings we had found on the deck, said, "Oh, I think you have about 5 bats that we can move out." I felt a weight removed from my shoulders. He then walked off the porch saying, "let me take a look around just to make sure." I was just on my way inside when he came back around. "Mr. Hall, my initial estimate is low." Begrudgingly I turned his direction and made my way down the steps where he proceeded to show me all of the entrance areas into the roof marked with guano (bat poo). He removed his hat and scratched his head, "I think you have about 125 bats at least." And we thought that bats were the least of our problems in Alaska.
Truthfully, the bats are not a horrible issue to have. We will have the situation remedied and we will still have a population of bats living on our property, just not in our property. They disturb us in the house, however, outside the house they are invaluable for insect control and other environmental benefits. To me it is somewhat representative of how the powers that oppose God work in this world. Each inconvenience and each nuance of difficulty add up over a short period until your eyes become clouded with the focus on the frustrations and trying things in life. Such limited visibility easily allows for the view to be narrowed and the work that is being accomplished by God to contain the issues missed on the periphery. The fear of the bat and annoyance with the bat is stronger in oneself than the reality of the created good of the bat.
To state it simply...sometimes life can be like a bear in the truck. Look, I have no idea of whether or not running out there yelling at the bear was technically the text book thing to do, but it worked. She did not hesitate to remedy the situation and trusted that her actions were going to achieve the desired outcome. Rather than the bear hanging out in the bed of the truck, scratching it up, and causing lasting damage, she approached the problem head on and drove it away with scarcely a look back. I envision that this is what God does for us. He sees the bears in the trucks and the bats in the attic and he runs ahead of us making the way passable, not necessarily easy, but passable. Putting our focus on God allows us to experience minimal damage and prevent long lasting scars. We might have a whole fleet of trucks with bears in the beds, but we can be certain that God is willing to run at everyone of them, if through our faith, we just let him loose.