By Elizabeth Gunter
Many years ago, I used to spend Wednesday evenings looking after some wonderful children so that the mom and dad could enjoy a night out. Part of the Wednesday night ritual was Big Brown Bear. The kids would squeal as they ran down to the basement in anticipation of the bear hunt. The kids would go in one room and count to ten allowing me, the big brown bear, a chance to hide. The object of the game was for the kids to find the bear and then run back to their safety zone before the growling bear could catch them, and then start the process over again.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, TEN!” The door would slowly open, and they would begin hunting the bear with a mixture of nervous anticipation and delight. Most of the time I was hidden in plain sight, because the best part of the game was not the seeking but the finding. But every once in a while I wasn’t as apparent as I needed to be, or they rushed right past me, assuming I was in another part of the basement. I could hear when the excitement would turn to nervous laughter. Then one of them would say “Miss Elizabeth?? Miss Elizabeth?? Can you growl??” (Imagine this in the endearing speech pattern of the littlest one: “Miss Ewizabuff?? Miss Ewizabuff?? Can you gwowl??”)
Sometimes I would let out a small growl to give them a hint of where to look. They would giggle and confidently come in hot pursuit to the area where I was hiding. Other times I wanted to give them a bit of a challenge or I knew they were very close and would see me soon, so I would keep quiet. If I stayed quiet too long, the request would come again, this time with a bit more desperation. “Miss Ewizabuff!!! Just a little gwowl!!!”
I would never let them get to a state of panic, but for them I am sure it felt like an eternity. Eventually, I would growl, or they would see me on their own. The reaction was always the same. Relief and elation would come over their faces that they had found the big brown bear. The big brown bear would smile a “You found me, now I am going to get you” smile, with hugs all around, and the delight of the chase would begin again.
At times in life it feels as though God is playing Big Brown Bear with me. There are days when He pops up in the most unexpected places, and I enjoy the delight of feeling Him pursue me. Then there are seasons when God is hiding. Circumstances grow dark, or life just feels flat, and I fail to see God. Like the children I find myself crying out, “God?? Where are you in this?? God??? Can you growl??? Just a little growl!!!”
Sometimes He answers immediately and gives me a hint of where He is and what He is up to. Other times He remains silent. My excitement turns to nervousness as my confidence begins to sag. In those times when He is silent, I need to go back to the game of Big Brown Bear and trust that God loves me infinitely more than I loved those kids, and if the best thing for me is for Him to growl, He will growl.
When He chooses not to growl, I need to stop the frantic hunt, take a deep breath, and see the situation from the perspective of my spirit, instead of my soul. Do you know what happens most of the time when I stop and intentionally align myself spirit, soul, and body with the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit? I am able to see that God has been in my “basement” with me all the time. He’s standing there in plain sight, waiting to be discovered. As my eyes meet His, relief and elation rise up in me that I am not alone, and I feel the delight of my Father saying, “You found me.” And the chase and pursuit begins again.
For those who find yourself in the basement, unsure of exactly where to find God, stop and intentionally ask Him to align you spirit, soul, and body with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I bless you with boldness to ask God for a growl with assurance of His great love, even if you don’t hear the growl the first time you ask.
I bless your spirit-to-Spirit connection with God. He will teach you to be biblically fearless, based on your covenant relationship with him. Believe and receive His unfailing perfect covenant love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Take this deep into your spirit and life experience. You have His faithful promises that you are secure in His protecting presence. You can rest totally depending on the character of God. Be blessed to trust in the All-sufficient One who is enough, where no lies and no fear can penetrate. Be blessed to see what God is doing in your trouble that is a stepping stone to more of Jesus. Be blessed with new peace in Jesus as your shield of faith. In Him nothing can destroy your joy, your hope, your relationships, your witness, or God’s purposes. And the God of peace will give you peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7).
Be blessed in the name of the One who will never forsake you, as He says to you:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
For I am the Lord, your God,
Who takes hold of your right hand
And says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.
– Isa 41:10-13