Acts 14

When I first moved to Colorado, I agreed to spend a week up at a summer camp in the Rocky Mountains to speak for their worships and spend time with the campers and staff. After packing for my week in the wild, I made one final stop at a church event before driving up the winding road to Ward, Colorado. As I checked in and began to settle in, I noticed a strange vibe ruminating around the campground. The usual hustle and bustle of arrival day was punctuated with notes of seriousness not often associated with the summer camp experience. Likewise, the presence of Sheriff’s vehicles and Colorado Parks and Wildlife trucks grabbed my attention. From the dining hall to the rec field, whispers of the morning’s events began to reach my ears.

 “It was 600 pounds,” someone said.
“I heard he poked it in the eye,” said another.
“Do you think it is still around? I bet it is not far away,” spoke up one small camper with a hint of nervousness in her voice.
“He had to be an old bear, who was super hungry and not afraid to get caught like they usually are when they wake up from hibernating,” piped in a camper who would later win many awards in nature knowledge at the Wilderness Survival Class.

I finally pieced it all together, a bear attack! Earlier that same morning, a large brown bear meandered into camp and pulled a snoozing staff member from his sleeping bag by the back of his head. As the picture of what transpired that morning solidified, I couldn’t help but conclude that this staff member had likely tendered his resignation and was on his way to conclude his summer with far less risky endeavors like lifeguarding at the local pool, playing video games, and binging Netflix shows. By dinner, I was surprised again, because this bear-bitten hero was already back to work with a head full of bloody staples.
Much like a summer camp with meandering bears, Paul and Barnabas faced their own journey of ups and downs. These two were quite the pair, traveling from town to town while preaching the good news. They hopped from place to place, experiencing both the whole-hearted acceptance of Jesus Christ and total hatred. The highs were high and the lows, low. So much so that Paul was stoned in Lystra where townspeople drug his body to the outskirts of town presuming him dead. Paul’s fellow believers gathered around him and, almost as if nothing had happened, he get got up and went right back into town.

When I saw the member of the camp staff with bear experience, with his blue staff polo and wide smile, I remember thinking, “that guy has a solid work ethic.” Similarly, you might think the same of Paul. Paul lived for Jesus. His entire life’s mission was to share the good news of Jesus’ love. Even after being viciously attacked, he sprang right back up again, ready to share the infectious love invading his heart. Paul had momentum in his bones, inspired by the gospel message. In the face of resistance, Paul and Barnabas leaned in. Because of them, many believed and their lives were forever changed. No matter the circumstances, they pressed on. The message in their hearts was too powerful to be put on pause, no matter situation.

After taking a brief inventory of how I react in the face of resistance (or even just an uncomfortable situation), I regret to inform you that I do not hold a candle to Paul and Barnabas. I long to capture the pure faith of Paul, where I might trust the process to live in confidence through life’s ups and downs. I invite you to join me in this challenge to lean in fully to life’s proverbial bear-bites or stonings, with the confidence and trust that Jesus will see us through it.

By Jessyka Dooley

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