Up here in the North Country, it’s not unusual to have a bear or two visit the neighborhood once in a while. The photo of the bears in the tree was taken at our former home on the other side of town. We take precautions, bringing our bird feeders inside at night, making sure our grills are empty following a cookout, etc. But bears are a determined species. Recently, my daughter and her husband had the trash secured in their garage behind closed doors, so they thought. Hearing a commotion in the night, and glancing out the window, a bear was spotted, given the appropriate verbal warning, and thought to have moved on. The dawn revealed a different story. This bear was not going to take “no” for an answer. Her incriminating paw prints were on the door, through which she broke and entered, accomplishing her original mission. The next plan of defense was ingenious. Snappers had recently been placed in the driveway parking area as a “welcome home” surprise for my daughter on her return from a trip. I LOVE my family. Our grandson Noah ingeniously placed the leftover snappers on the bear’s “path of entry.” Sure enough, that evening. . .Pop, pop, pop! The surprised bear was seen to be making a hasty exit! And just in case she should venture another attempt, an old pressure activated Halloween door mat that screams, howls, and makes all manner of frightening sounds when stepped on, will welcome her at the garage door.
We laugh at the bear’s persistence and stubbornness, but I wonder if, sometimes, God might not see us in the same way. How far does He have to go to get our attention?
Samuel learned the art of listening to the voice of God early in his life, while still a boy in the care of Eli, the priest. While he was sleeping one night “the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears.’ ” (1 Samuel 3:10) Others, do not learn so fast. When Stephen, a disciple of Christ, was seized and brought before the Sanhedrin for preaching the good news, he warned those gathered, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.” (Acts 7:51) He chastened those who were rejecting the Holy Spirit’s teaching.
How many times have we ignored a warning from the Spirit about something we were about to say or do? Usually the results are not so pretty. Being a gracious Lord, He may give us another warning, but how much stronger will the next one have to be to get our attention? Sometimes we resist because we’re not sure we “heard it right” the first time. Other times, we’re just stubborn and want to do it our way. Occasionally the temptation is really overwhelming, and we stop listening to the warnings, like our bear friend, who wouldn’t take no for an answer the first time, but insisted on a return trip.
Isaiah said to the people of Zion, ”Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21) Jesus says to his people, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)
How do we hear His voice? He speaks to us, of course, through His written Word. He speaks to us in prayer, which is as much about listening as it is about talking. He speaks to us through other Spirit-led believers as well. God speaks . . . “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)
Snappers, bears and scary sounds . . . and me. OH MY! That’s the view from here . . .