Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fishing with the Bears

Today Doug Faust and I went fishing for salmon. We began on the Somass River and it was one of most picturesque and idyllic mornings imaginable: the sun was shining, the rushing of the rapids, trees in full fall color, a blue heron on a rock nearby watching fish, and a bald eagle soaring high overhead. Yet in spite of our peaceful setting, we were somewhat unnerved by the constant presence of bears – bear prints everywhere, numerous piles of fresh bear scat on the trail, the strong smell of bears in the air, and a black bear across the river from where we were fishing, looking for a place to join us on our side. The entire time we fished there, we were on constant alert.

As I reflected on the duality of my feelings (peace and apprehension) I thought about how we are so often lulled into spiritual numbness by the good things in life without being aware of the evil that is also all around us. The apostle Peter writes: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

My constant prayer is that God, in the midst of the goodness of life, would continuously make me aware of both the depth the sin that is within me and also of the constant evil that is all around me, who “prowls around . . . to devour.” In the words of the old Puritan prayer:

Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world,
and make me ready for my departure hence
animated by the humiliations of penitential love.
My soul is often a chariot without wheels,
clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay;
Mount it on eagle’s wings,
and cause it to soar upward to thyself.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:10-11).

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