Sometimes we have to fight the bear!
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
John 15: 12-17
As we approach Easter time we naturally begin to think about the Sacrifice made by our Lord on the Cross!
With that in mind I wanted to share a true story that was shared with me by a Pastor of a Church from Tomsk in Western Siberia! The area around Tomsk is home to the East Siberian brown bear which have increasingly become more accustomed to the human presence in the towns and cities and will when they are hungry enough venture into the towns to seek out food- they have also been known to attack people!
One such incident occurred when a family from the city of Tomsk were out walking through the city and came across a large male adult bear. The bear seeking food ran towards them clearly with the intention of attacking the family- As the bear approached the family the father of the family ran towards the bear shouting for his family to run- the man attacked the bear resulting in him sadly being killed- however his family escaped safely!
The clear picture from this incident is that the father/husband stood between his family and danger and sacrificed himself so they could be safe and live on.
When we consider this incident and think about our own lives and the lives of our friends, families, colleagues and the people we interact with that there are ‘bears’ that each of us have to face ourselves- it maybe Loneliness, Depression, Anxiety, Homelessness, Hunger, Debt, fear or any number of things that cause us fear or distress. Sometimes in our Policing lives we called to stand between the public and danger- we have seen only recently Pc Keith Palmer tragically lost his life placing himself between members of the public and a man intent on killing.
The very nature of sacrifice is that one gives of them self for another – this is a true act of Love that we can demonstrate on a daily basis. Every single one of us in a position to give of themselves to help someone else- it doesn’t mean that we have to face a knife wielding man or actually fight a large bear- it does mean however that you if you can should try and help those around you who are troubled or in need of help!
Every single one of us will probably know people around us now who are going through troubles- and many of us will be in a position to help those people who are troubled to face their individual ‘bear’. We recently were in a position to help someone who was facing severe and unexpected financial hardship- the choice we had when we identified the problem was to either:
- Do nothing practical and offer support.
- Do what we could practically to help them through the issue!
We decided on option 2 – we were able to provide them a small amount of financial support, engage the services of a local food bank to provide them some food and other essential supplies but also we were able to offer support in terms of prayer and friendship as well as finding them a local support group to help them- we helped them face that bear!
Very often when we are troubled it can feel like we are all alone and not worthy of help- to know that someone cares, is not only paying attention to our troubles but is also practically helping us is truly reassuring and can make any problem seem not quite so bad! When you see the change that can be made in some one’s life because someone else took the time to care and try and help it is amazing- the work of organisations like CAP, Street Pastors, Street Angels and so many others shows that we can all make that difference to people!
What a difference to us that Sacrifice made at the first Easter made:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
When we consider the sacrifice of the very first Easter it is truly wonderful to know that Jesus loves us so much that he sacrificed himself for us- that he faced our bear for us even though we didn’t really deserve it! So this Easter and this year be the person who helps others face their bear, make a difference be the one who makes that sacrifice for someone else!
So from the Branch Leadership Team and our families we wish you all a blessed Easter time!
Keep on running!
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3 12-14
I did something this week that I haven’t been able to do since September last year- I managed to get on my mountain bike and go for a decent ride! The reason I hadn’t got out till now was due to some problems caused by a seemingly straight forward operation that I had towards the end of September that meant I wasn’t able to ride my bike without it causing me some issues. I had tried two or three times to go for a ride but on every occasion I had had to out the bike away and think again! I had also tried going for a run- something that I don’t have much experience of- this also caused me some issues so I had to stop. In short I, have found it hard to do any exercise for a few months and it was starting to annoy me!
It was great to get out in the fresh air today- the sun was shining and it felt good to get moving again…… for about twenty minutes that is! I had clearly forgotten that I am not totally ‘match fit’ and having gone off at my usual pace I soon realised that I wasn’t going to beat my usual time for the route I cycle and that I was feeling very tired!
So, at the twenty-minute point I had a few of options-
- Simply stop, phone Mrs Evs and get her to come and rescue me.
- Turn around and slowly limp home.
- Stop for a rest and then carry on.
- Man-up and keep going!
It is clear that all of the above options were the one I could choose and in my own mind I would have been able to justify any of them- In the end I decided on option three; I stopped for a couple of moments had a drink of water and then got going again even though I knew I had around 45 minutes ahead of me. And even though my time around the usual route was about ten minutes slower than in September I was really pleased to get all the way around and reach home with a sense of accomplishment- now I know to some cycling for a little over an hour is nothing to some of you- but for someone who hasn’t been able to ride for around five months I was quite pleased!
For each of us there are times in our lives when it just seems too hard- too tiring or as if giving up is the only option for whatever reason. For some of us in our walk as Christians there will be days when we feel like it is too hard to carry on with what God has given us to do for him- there will be days when it is all too much and either turning around and going the other way or getting someone else to rescue us Is tempting!
These are the days when we need to focus even more on our walk with God and rely on the strength that he gives us- In Hebrews 12 we read:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12 1-3
I have taken great encouragement from this piece of scripture in the past few weeks as I have had an increasing feeling of weariness. With more demands on me at home looking after the Small ones, work getting very busy because of an impending move to another station, demands on my time representing the CPA and my work for my own church I have had to choose option three from my list above ‘Stop for a rest and then carry on’. But I have definitely not given up or given in- I have just taken time to refocus on the Lord and not tried to do too much- this has given me a new energy and renewed focus to carry on with the work that God has given to me!
We can be inclined to believe that we simply have to keep going a record pace all of the time and that God doesn’t understand….. Well remember God knows us better than we know ourselves- and he understands that sometimes we do get a bit tired, but also when that happens he doesn’t abandon us- he is there for us!
From speaking to friends lately it is clear to me that I am not the only one who is feeling this way- whether it be the demands of a busy life or an issue or incident that has stopped you in your tracks I want to encourage you that God is bigger than that issue or incident and has your back- Give it to him, focus on him and if needs be ‘Stop for a rest and then carry on’ but don’t simply give in!
So this month if you are feeling weary or that everything is getting a bit much for you- be encouraged and don’t throw in the towel- if you need to take a rest then take it is Ok! Focus on spending time with the Lord and not doing too much and then when you are good to go again push onwards towards the goal, run with perseverance and do not grow weary