Elul 28 Love bears up!! I think the choice of the word “bears” caught my attention most when reading this phrase. The actual meaning in Greek is roof and denotes a shield or guard. Its purpose is to protect, preserve and sustain the object of love. This made me think of the phrase of how a momma bear defends her cubs. Having watched a momma bear in Colorado watch over her twin cubs I saw very protective behavior. The cubs were napping on tree limbs and mom was sitting a couple of limbs up when I arrived. I was the curious CO tourist invited by some locals to come see this wonderful experience up close and personal (standing only a few feet away at the base of the tree looking up). Several of the neighbors had gathered around the tree by the time I got there and so I joined in the conversation. That summer I had been reading about bears in several books loaned to me by a native. Bears had been coming into this sleepy town looking for food more and more often and so “bear watching” had become a sport of sorts. As we stood around nonchalantly talking, they seemed totally unconcerned about the fact that a HUGE bear was only feet away. But I was more cautious and was keeping a close eye on the momma bear and she was definitely keeping a close eye on us. I noticed she had started drooling and, according to the books I was reading, this was the first sign of showing her stress. The next sign of stress was for her to “huff.” Huffing is letting air out in a loud sigh or exclamation like our “tsk.” So when she let out a “huff” it startled me but I took off running! The natives laughed until they cried but I was safe and not sorry! She would become more assertive until she got us to leave her cubs alone. So let’s think about this phrase in the terms of how a momma bear protects and defends her cubs. She watches for danger and takes the necessary steps to protect and defend her babies. In our relationships we can do the same for people. We can be a watchman on the wall and be on the lookout over someone’s shoulder as their rear guard to thwart stealth attacks in their weak areas. We can see dangers lurking that they are unaware of or have minimized or thought they were strong enough to handle on their own. I also like to think of warning someone when you see them “walking towards a cliff edge.” We all have different ways of seeing things and some of us are short range thinkers--some long range. Others of us are good at details but have a harder time seeing the big picture. Some of us have great wisdom in certain areas where others lack experience and know how. We can help each other with our strengths. We are to bear one another’s burdens, to encourage and exhort, to help and protect. We are to watch out for each other’s best interests--even when it conflicts with our own. The Bible calls us to esteem others higher than ourselves. This would demand that we defend our brothers and sisters in Christ against someone spreading rumors or gossip, talking disparagingly against them and standing up for them when they are insulted or treated with indignity. How are you fulfilling your role as protector and defender? How are you sounding the alarm when you see danger lurking around your friends and family? Do you remain silent when people make racist or sexist remarks? Is it easier to walk away from situations that beg you to warn others about what you see as potential problems? Do you join in jokes and talk that demean and cut down people? Be bold and courageous and follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting to protect and defend. The other person may not be grateful until hindsight kicks in but at least you have been obedient, faithful and loving.
Follow the season of Teshuvah during this Month of Elul with Guest blogger Denise Dee Lytle Gibbs who originally posted these blogs on her Facebook page Fall Feast Prayer Initiative.