The largest bull moose I had ever seen strolled out from between our tents and stared at me.
It was beautiful, but I knew the stats. Moose were responsible for more deaths in Canada than any other animal, many of them because curious campers didn’t respect them enough to give them the space they deserved. With this in mind I slowly backed up, pushed my canoe into the water and paddled away a few metres, giving him free reign of our campsite.
He walked around, eventually taking his eyes off of me to snuff at the pit I had dug, apparently not deep enough to hide the smell of food scraps. My heart was beating faster than normal, but it was with an excitement that contrasted sharply with the terror of the night before. I paddled to get a clearer view of him and he finally turned and left the way he had come.
I returned to my stone on the shore and rested my chin on my knees. Why had that been different? Why was I able to feel respect towards the Moose, acting appropriately but not loosing my joy. Yet bees could paralyze me with fear?
I picked up my journal and started to write when I heard a faint buzzing. I looked around as it got louder.
A bee, larger than the ones that had attacked me the day before, was buzzing lazily in the summer heat circling me and doing figure eights among the vegetation.
My teeth clenched up, my muscles tensed and I felt sweat breaking out on my back.
It landed on my foot.
I froze, my eyes wide, staring at the bee and using every once of my willpower battling with my foot not to shake in fear. I could tell I was loosing. A split second before my foot started shuddering the bee got up and flew away.
I was devastated. I remembered what Pastor Doug had said and, as confident as I was that God had brought me that bee to give me a chance to battle my fear, I was equally confident that I failed. I certainly hadn’t been smiling and couldn’t claim on any level that I had been acting in peace and joy.
“Father, I can’t do this on my own. I’m too weak. Please, change me from the inside out! Please take this fear away! I don’t want this fear in my life, I’m acting like I’m it’s slave. Please set me free.”
As I journalled my prayer I heard the buzz again. The bee was coming back. My chest started to tighten again, then slowly relaxed as I became aware that I wasn’t alone. My Heavenly Father was right beside me.
The bee landed on my right hand just below the first knuckle of my index finger.
It was beautiful.
Each colour, each hair stood out in clear detail less than a foot away from my face. It crawled toward my wrist licking at my sweat and sunscreen, tickling me as it went. I slowly rotated my wrist to keep it in view as it turned left and moved onto my palm. It climbed up my ring finger and then flew away.
Tears of joy leaked from my eyes as I lay back on the soft earth and whispered “Thank you Father.” over and over again.
And the best part? Now, when I meet a bee – I still respect it – but no longer freeze in fear. Instead I drift to the memory of the time Father taught me of it’s beauty.
Philipians chapter 4
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)