It was late October and all of the vegetables in my garden had been harvested. The fruit on the plum tree was nearly ripe and I was looking forward to enjoying some juicy treats.

In the fall, Colorado often has large and small uninvited nocturnal animals roaming around. I have been visited by them before. Upon awakening one morning I opened the drapes covering the patio door and noticed that my six foot tall wooden fence was broken. It looked like someone had taken a sledge hammer and smashed off the top of six of the slats. Puzzled, I went outside to see if there was more damage and found that the wooden double gate had a gaping, jagged hole about 24” by 24”. Who had done this vandalism? Bears!

I called my neighbor, Scott, to talk over my situation. He said they’d had some damage too and that he could repair the mess for me. With hammer, screws, drill, and wood, he soon had the fence looking good again.

Two weeks later the destruction happened again. This time I was really upset! These repairs were expensive and time consuming. I wasn’t willing to have this expense every few weeks so instead of repairing the huge hole in the gate, I chose to wedge two large pieces of lumber in an Xacross the gate and made sure it was secure. I prayed the Xwould hold so I could wait until the bears hibernation time before making repairs.

My neighbor and I both contacted the Colorado Wildlife Department to report the damage. Their proposed solution to the problem was to cut down our beautiful fruit trees. Scott had four fruit trees where the bear had broken the limbs and stripped the fruit. I had one plum tree and it too had been stripped. Cutting down our valued fruit trees was not an option.

The Wildlife Department told us that bears are creatures of habit and they would return even when they had been removed as far away as one hundred miles. They would find their way back because their sense of smell is twelve hundred times greater than ours. The rangers also told us that bears eat twenty hours a day before hibernation. Knowing my bear situation could occur again, I decided to wait and see.

Scott’s neighbor had reported that he had seen a very large bear roaming on their street and he guessed the weight of the animal was about four hundred pounds. For the time being, I decided not to worry about bears, but kept a wary eye every time I went to tend my flower garden.

As if on schedule, two weeks later at 11:00 p.m., I heard a tremendous bang that sounded like a wrecking-ball hitting the side of my house. I leaped out of bed, turned on the light, opened the blinds, and the window. Then I heard another tremendous bang. Looking out I couldn’t see anything. But again I heard the bashing sound of the wrecking-ballas it jarred the side of my house. Finally I understood that the large bear had returned and no matter how hard he shook the gate, he couldn’t dislodge the lumber barrier I had created. His efforts were so violent that they frightened me, and I started shaking. I didn’t know whether the bear could break its way into the house.

I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. “What’s your emergency?”

There is a huge bear shaking my fence and gate so hard that it sounds like a wrecking-ball hitting my house.”

“I’ll call the police for you ma’am.”

A police dispatcher came on the line and said, “Now Mrs. Vickers, calm down.”

“You don’t understand, listen to the banging!” I held the phone out of the window so he could hear the racket. He kept me on the phone for fifteen minutes until I began to calm down.

That high level of fear can cripple rational thinking. I wasn’t thinking clearly or I would have remembered some scriptures that dealt with fear and perhaps I could have remained calm.

Matthew records this account of the disciples and the fear they encountered: Matthew 14: 26-31. The disciples were in a boat at night when there arose a raging storm. JESUS came walking on the water toward them. They were afraid, thinking they were seeing a ghost in the dark. JESUS knowing their fear said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Peter said, “If it is you, tell me to come.”

JESUS said, “Come.”

Peter climbed out of the boat and began to walk toward JESUS. For a second he looked down instead of keeping his eyes on JESUS, and he began to sink. JESUS said, “Oh you of little faith why did you doubt?”

At this point, I didn’t have any more faith than Peter did as he was sinking. Had I kept my mind on the words of JESUS: Be of good cheer, be not afraid,perhaps I would not have made that 911 call.

Two days later another neighbor called the Wildlife Department to report the bear in their area. When the rangers came out and saw the huge bear, they realized they would have to use all of their tranquilizing darts to bring it down. They had never needed to use all of their darts

on just one animal. When finally it was down and asleep, they weighed the bear and found it to be 460 pounds, the largest they had ever seen in Colorado Springs.

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