“Brandon! I’ve got the best idea for a trip. Let’s go see the fireflies,” my wife said to me, with all the excitement and fervor of a child the night before Christmas Day.
I have to say, my initial response was not so enthusiastic. I grew up in the far-reaching hills of Southern Kentucky. I’d seen fireflies my entire life and couldn’t imagine taking a trip just to see a few of their tiny hind-ends glow.
She went on to explain to me these were no ordinary fireflies, but were a unique breed that once a year, all blinked at the same time. I later learned she was absolutely correct and this phenomenon was referred to as the Synchronous Fireflies.
I could tell you about how much fun it turned out to be. How we trekked through the woods in the pitch black of night with nothing but a red-colored flashlight (white light messes up the firefly blinking), but that’s not going to be the point of this story. Yes, the fireflies were amazing and I’ve never seen anything like it. It seemed like 100,000 of these little fellows surrounded us all blinking together like something out of a Disney movie.
But, no, this story is more about the hike we took while waiting on the fireflies to get to work.
It was almost impossible to find a place to park outside the campsite, so we had decided it would be wise to rent a campsite for the parking privileges. Being that we would have the campsite for the day, we hiked a few of the trails offered while waiting for the sun to set and the firefly performance to begin.
I think we must have hiked 8 miles, browsing the old buildings of what once used to be an old condo community on the park. We snapped tons of photos around the streams and enjoyed our time together just seeing all the cool things the park had to offer.
That was until it was starting to get dark and we ran up on the bear poo.
“Lindsay, that’s bear poo—it looks really fresh,” I said to her as lightly as I could so as not to worry her, but I was a bit on the cautious side.
Lindsay didn’t believe me. Instead, she thought it had to be something like a horse. Now it was getting dark and we hadn’t seen another human being for a while. We decided it would probably be a good time to head back toward the start of the trail where there would be plenty of people and fireflies.
As we were making our way back, I heard a rustle, about 75 feet away, in an old apple tree. I have to admit my first thought was, “Geez, what is that hairy man doing up there. I don’t think an apple is worth all that trouble.”
That “Ain’t” No Hairy Man
Out dropped a large, but still baby, bear with Momma Bear nowhere to be seen.
I immediately began to recall, and shared with Lindsay, the 30-second version of, “What not to do when you see a bear,” knowledge I had gained from my Boy Scout days.
I wasn’t so concerned about the baby bear as much as I was in the knowledge that its momma was somewhere close by. She wouldn’t be polite to ask questions why we were so close to her little furball.
All we could do was to continue walking the trail, but now with much more caution. At this point, the sun had sunk below the horizon and I was using my red-tinted flashlight—that was about as good as hiking by match light.
It was then I saw those two glowing eyes staring right back at us about 10 feet away.
Danger, Danger Will Robinson
I think every hair on my body stood up to make me appear larger than the 5’6” man I am. In the span of a millisecond, I sorted through all the mental scenarios playing out, each one to choose what the best plan of action would be. I ended up choosing what I call, “The Get Away Bear” technique.
I’m not sure why I chose this option, but in the moment it seemed like a better option than running by red-light, through the dark, in only what could be equated to a low budget horror movie scene.
Immediately, I started yelling, “GET AWAY BEAR, GET AWAY BEAR” over and over each time with more resolve than the last.
I Didn’t Know Bears Could Laugh
What stopped me was the most hillbilly laughing sound I’ve ever heard. And let me remind you, I grew up in the coal-mining hills of Southern KY.
“Huh, ha, huh… get A-waaay Burrrr,” is all he said to me under his laughter.
It turned out, this wonderful woods dweller had decided to bring along his pit-bull with him on this magical firefly adventure. I explained to him what had happened, but the conversation didn’t last long.
For the rest of the night, every time this guy passed us on the trail, he would whisper, “Get Away Bear” as he went by.
I have to admit, the first few times I wanted to trip the guy. But I couldn’t get past how funny that scary situation had turned out. So, instead, I just chuckled back to him and focused on taking in the small but many blinking lights surrounding us.
Let’s Bring It All Home
I think, like this story, many of us have found ourselves facing an unknown fear at one time or another. It could be the fear of losing a job, a relative who just received a troubling diagnosis, or the fear of making a wrong choice.
Whatever the fear may be God gives us the ability to walk through it by placing our trust and faith in his word. In Psalms 56, the psalmist writes, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
Trusting in God doesn’t mean our body doesn’t feel fear. I don’t think it magically disappears. What does happen though is we are given hope and strength in our reliance on God’s word to walk through the fear without fear of what’s ahead.
Our trust in him gives us hope.
Now I wish that meant that the bad things we fear always turn out to be good. But that would be naive to say. Sometimes we do lose our jobs, that family member does lose their battle with their disease, and we do make the wrong choice. But while those things do happen, we do not have to live in fear of life walking through them. God provides us with hope, love, grace, and faith. He offers us his hand and walks through these difficult times with us.
It’s in those moments we realize that bad things do happen, but we do not have to fear them because we have someone Greater than the brokenness in the world walking with us through the fireflies. He is always helping us remember the beauty of the world around us in the middle of fear and brokenness.
My hope for you is whatever it is that you fear that your trust in Christ grows greater than your fear, and when you feel like that is not an option, you find comfort in knowing his arms are wide and his heart large. He walks with us through our times of fear. Patiently consoling us and reminding us that we have nothing to fear in him.