Indians, Bears, and Strange Noises—Oh My!
By Jodi Whisenhunt
My family lived in the country when I was a child, on a remote mountain in West Virginia. I don’t know the acreage—didn’t occur to me to care as a little girl—but it was forested enough for my brother to terrify me with tales of ferocious bears and rogue Indians. Yes, Indians. In the 1970s.
Down the hill beyond two vegetable gardens pooled a spring-fed pond. At its far edge loomed the woods. Dark and thick, plush with undergrowth, flickers of dogwood blossoms lit its mysterious depths. One early March evening, I noticed some large footprints in the grass leading from the woods up the hill. My brother convinced me an Indian brave was hunting someone to scalp. My young mind hung on his every word, forgetting Dad had been fishing moments earlier and had just taken his gear up to the shed near the gardens.
My grandparents happened to be visiting at the time. Grandma, who is part Susquehanna Indian, suggested we camp out near the tree line, Grandma and Grandpa in one tent and our family in another. We tossed horseshoes, charred weenies, and lit marshmallows ablaze, then scrambled into sleeping bags that were preheated with foil-wrapped potato briquettes (Mom was innovative!).
Some time later, a snort and a growl roused Dad. He waited before alerting us, like Isaiah 13:4, “Listen, a noise on the mountains, like that of a great multitude!”
“Grunt, huff, grrrr,” it went again, startling us from sleep. Dad grabbed his pistol and crept through the door flap, anticipating a fierce beast. He scanned the perimeter, stepped out, and readied his gun. Inching toward the sound…closer…closer…he discovered it was only Grandpa snoring!
Blowing out the breath he’d been holding, Dad laughed and disarmed himself. When he returned, he assured us we were safe from the wild Grandpa bear and his slumbering Indian bride.
Sometimes when God speaks to us, we misinterpret His message. Inner angst garbles God’s gentle whisper. We hear instead fearsome clamor. Anxiety binds us. We pitch excuses and beg our way out. “God, I can’t do that! I’m too shy. I’m just one person. I don’t know how. It’s too far away. There are bears in the woods! Please ask someone else.”
But when we listen before we open fire with our pleas, we receive guidance and add to our learning. We become wise. Proverbs 4:5 implores us to “Get wisdom, get understanding.” To do so, we must not fear God’s voice.
My dad had gun in hand before setting foot into the danger zone. Likewise, we must arm ourselves with God’s truth and prepare to meet whatever awaits us on His path. We must open our hearts to receive His instruction. We must pray for discernment, act on God’s commands, and yes, allow His will to be done. He may require us to surrender our cozy shelters, but with Christ on our side, we can stand against any ferocious creature or barbaric savage (or snoring grandpa and snoozing grandma) with complete confidence.