Bears in the Alaskan wilderness are great motivators. In our briefing before going out for the first time, Jen, our guide, reminded us that they were not teddy bears. They were not our friends. They were not here to entertain us. She went on to add that when she told us to do something we should act first and ask questions later.
While I cannot accurately speak for everyone, from my observation I would say that our group is naturally rebellious and independent. We enjoy walking to a different drum. Obeying is not something that comes naturally. Taking instructions, even from one designated to be our guide, can be a challenge. We like the road less traveled. We enjoy exploring the possibilities.
We did not have any problems taking instruction in the wilderness. While the first excursions might have created complacency for others, in our case we were witnesses to an intense flight between two mothers and a cub. The combination of two six hundred pound animals fighting without restraints was terrifying. The addition of an over confident cub in the mix brought the fragility of life to a bloody edge.
In this fight, there were no winners. For a short time, it almost seemed as though at least one would lose its life. In the end, the cub rediscovered her mother and everyone walked away. I wondered what had changed – for the bears and for us.
Later that evening we looked a pictures and video from the scene. As I watched, Jen’s words kept replaying in my mind. In the days that followed, taking this instruction was easy. I would like to think that the bears were the catalyst but something more happened in that first hour.
Belief gives birth to action and response. When I heard how others responded in a given situation, how “as soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus”, (Acts 19.5) I know it was more than the touch of a motivator. Their actions and ours are the mystery of belief.