By Carolyn Dale Newell

Snakes and skunks scare me, but I never feared bears until we started spending so much time in the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg. Bears are a common occurrence there. They remain harmless unless they smell food. Unless you are a dog. How would a bear react to iva? I did not want to find out.

During our three -day writing retreat and solo vacation, my fear was meeting a bear.

When we overslept one morning, I accredited the late wake-up call to God. He was keeping us away from the early morning bear. One had been spotted outside the night before.

We bounded down the hallway and out the door. Iva was her usual stubborn self, being particular about her potty spot. I heard someone on the hotel balcony behind me, but when I glanced back, they never said anything. A second “Psss…!”, but silence followed.

Then I heard, “Hey, lady”

I responded with a yes.

“There’s a bear!”

I shrieked, jumping from fear. The bear growled as Iva and I made it to the hotel door.

Another man asked if I saw the bear. “No, I’m blind!” I responded as we entered the safety of the hotel.

I stood there momentarily listening to what happened next. The balcony whisperers were shocked when the other man told them I was blind. They must have been trying to motion to me when they made noises, but I could not see them.

As I pulled out my phone to call my husband, a Bible verse popped up.

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 NKJV

God kept us safe. My scream may have frightened the bear or perhaps God had sent an army of angels to surround us with swords drawn as in the incident with Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).

I felt rattled most of the day, but I had to take Iva out again. This time, I met a couple who had watched the entire incident from their fifth-floor balcony. Their love for black labs drew their attention to us several days earlier. They offered to walk with me, and so did a member of the hotel management team.

I spotted God’s fingerprints all over this frightening experience. This couple did not live far from our home. They were in Gatlinburg for the same Christian event we were there to attend. More similarities unraveled as we talked throughout the week.

Everyone seemed relieved when my husband arrived in town. Would that end our solo vacations for Iva and me? I called a few hotels downtown, but they could not offer me the beautiful mountain view. Then I heard reports about bears downtown. They are everywhere, but Iva and I are scheduled for three more weeks in our favorite spot next year. Part of that time we will be on our own again. I trust God, and He showed me He was all over this. I am carrying a whistle next year, just to warn the bear that Iva and I are accompanied by an army of angels.

Friend, we should avoid unnecessary risks, but we cannot journey through life in fear of what may happen. Be cautious, but be confident because God is in control.

Copyright 2017 Carolyn Dale Newell.


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