Beware of Bears

christian parenting eastern tennessee family Jun 24, 2024
bears in Smoky Mountains God is our refuge

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

- Psalm 46:1


If you’ve never been to the Smoky Mountains, believe me when I say that their beauty is absolutely spectacular. Our family loves to visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge together when we have the opportunity for a vacation, and both cities offer fabulous amenities and activities for adults and kids. But this particular event happened when Derek and I had left the kids with their grandparents and headed to Sevierville, Tennessee for a mastermind retreat.

For this particular retreat, our group stayed in a more remote area of the Smokies. One evening after dinner, Derek and I decided to go across the street from our lodge where a pavilion offered a stunning view of the surrounding landscape. Two of our friends joined us and, enjoying the crisp, mountain air, we decided to take some photos and chat before it was time to go across the road and back to our cabin. As we were talking with our friends, Derek looked behind us, pointed, and then quietly said, “There’s a bear.”

I followed his line of sight and my stomach dropped. My eyes fell upon a large, black bear off to the side of our lodge, slowly making his way toward the neighboring cabin’s trash cans. It was at this point that we realized three things: One, we didn’t have much protection from bears in the pavilion. Two, some of our friends were standing casually on our porch, having no idea how close danger was to them. And three, a second bear had just arrived and was very close to our friends on the porch.

Moving quietly, we waved our arms to get their attention and kept our voices low. Thankfully, our friends saw us and were able to get the message, quickly heading inside to tell the others. At this point, the four of us were alert but not exactly worried. We were fairly content to wait across the road until the bears lost interest in the trash and wandered off into the woods.

But that all changed with the arrival of the third bear.

The third bear was significantly bigger than the first two and coming down the road from the opposite direction. Now, three dangerous animals were in between us and our safe place and I was officially nervous.

We had to wait for several minutes, but eventually all three bears moved away from our cabin and we were able to cross the road and get back to the cabin. I’ve never been so happy to be inside a building with a strong front door!

That night as I was getting ready for bed, I began to mull over the fact that our little adventure with the bears was a fitting metaphor for the realities of parenting in this world. We had been at the pavilion having a great time, with absolutely no idea how close we were to danger. The same is true in our day-to-day lives. How often is something dangerous or threatening just around the corner from our children and we don’t even notice? Evil is often sneaky.

We knew that bears were in the mountains. Signs were posted in prominent places to help guests be aware and alert, but we never really expected to see them so close to home, so to speak. On a hike, we wouldn’t have been so surprised. We expected to see animals in their natural habitat…not in ours.

God’s Word tells us that evil is real and present, and we expect to see it in a fallen world. But it can still surprise us when it comes knocking at the door of our own churches and homes. But it’s important to remember that God is our shelter. He is our protection. And we don’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we are away from God.

The “bears” of this world are real and dangerous, and being prepared to handle them is both wise and necessary. This is why being in the Word with our children and teaching it to them is absolutely vital. Learning apologetics (how to defend one’s faith), as a family and discussing the realities of worldviews can also be a very helpful tool to teach children not just what they believe, but why.

How thankful I am that God has given us His Word to do this well, for it has all we need, “for life and godliness.”


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