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When Facing Fear, Turn to God First - Guideposts
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When Facing Fear, Turn to God First

Going it alone is never a good idea in overwhelming circumstances.

Facing Fear with God
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

Sometimes in the throes of an emergency or other extreme event I forget to ask, “Is there a God moment in all of this fear? A lesson?” Such was the case the other night when my golden retriever, Gracie, treed an angry bear.

That’s right, sweet gentle Gracie. She really hates bears.

It was approaching midnight when I let Gracie out. She usually just goes to one of her spots and comes right back in. She is a creature of habit. Bedtime means bedtime. Sometimes I tease her for being so fussy. I put on her boundary collar and opened the door. Instead of going and sleepily doing her business she suddenly shot outside like a comet, streaking into the yard toward our apple tree, barking her head off.

I was wearing my robe and slippers. There was no time to even put on a coat. This was not a deer or a coyote. Gracie chases them off with ease. Even a coyote won’t risk tangling with a seventy-pound dog. This degree of bravado was reserved for bears, usually from the safety of the living room window.

I grabbed a fireplace poker, a high-beam flashlight and a can of bear spray and tore after her. She was circling the apple tree, running and jumping and barking like a lunatic.

“Gracie!” I yelled. “Gracie, come!”

But she was in too much of a frenzy. Her blood was up. Her eyes blazed.

The apple tree, which drops lots of apples on the ground this time of year (surely what the bear was after), is sturdy but not large. I could see the bear’s hindquarters hanging down precariously. And he was in a mood. Far from being cowed, he was snarling and snapping his jaws.

Stumbling, I lunged and caught Gracie by her collar and dragged her back toward the house. She kept looking over her shoulder and barking defiantly. I tightened my grip, afraid I might be choking her but I didn’t dare risk letting her get loose.

“C’mon, Cujo. Get inside.”

I saw the bear descend from the tree and lope off into the woods. The black bear is small by bear standards. Still, this one was at least 300 pounds.

I finally wrestled Gracie inside and slammed the door.

“What were you thinking?” I cried.

But Gracie was back to her normal happy self, wagging her tail and gazing expectantly at her treat jar which, ironically, is shaped like a bear.

I knelt and took off her collar. “You are never going outside again,” I said. And in the moment, I meant it. But later, when my heart rate and breathing returned to normal, I wondered why God had put me through this.

I thought about Gracie streaking into the night to face her adversary. Do I too do that sometimes when confronted with an overwhelming situation? When a problem arises that is much bigger than me, yet I still think I can attack it on my own. Those problems are the ones that eat me alive. Gracie was just obeying her instincts to protect her territory. I should know better than to face big situations without first asking God for help. I’ve done it too often.

The next day I went out, picked up all the apples on the ground and the low hanging ones on the branches and threw them into the woods. From now on, at least until winter set in, I would walk Gracie on a leash at night.

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