Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

I recently returned from a writers’ conference in Estes Park, Colorado, nestled in the majestic Rocky Mountains. When we checked in, our guest packages included a flyer titled, “Be Bear Aware.”

The flyer is standard issue to all guests because apparently some folks have unwisely left food outdoors or in vehicles, attracting bears…and I’m not talking about Yogi.


The same flyer cautioned guests against getting too close to the elk that ambled the property. To quote the warning, “These elk will allow humans to get way too close before reacting to the intrusion…a human invading an elk’s space can be seriously injured. Elk often won’t give you a clue that something is about to happen, they will just charge.”


I initially wondered at the need for such warnings. After all, isn’t it common sense to keep our distance from wild animals?

It should be, but sometimes common sense is in short supply.

Last week, two tourists in Yellowstone National Park decided a baby bison needed to be rescued from the cold weather. So they placed it in their car and drove to the nearest ranger station. I kid you not. The baby bison had to be euthanized because the herd would not accept it back and it kept approaching people and vehicles.

Wild animals are wild. They are not meant to be treated as domesticated pets. This should not need to be spelled out, yet here we are.

There’s another lesson in this for us. You see, the same warning applies to sin. Treat it as if it were a wild animal.

Don’t get too close.

Don’t ask “How close can I get without getting hurt?”
Instead, ask “How far can I move away to avoid being burned?”

Don’t think because it initially appears docile that it’s not a threat.

Appearances are deceiving.

Don’t think you can control it because you’re smart or talented.

Wild animals will turn on you in a split second…and so will sin.

As one person put it, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

That minor temptation will morph into a prison of guilt and shame.

That small habit will transform into a ruthless slave master.

That secret sin will grow into an overpowering addiction.

Be bear aware. Be very bear aware.

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  1. John Williamson

    Great wisdom!

  2. AvaPennington

    Thank you, John!

  3. Bethany

    Loved this post. A great illustration to drive the point memorably home. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. AvaPennington

    Thanks, Bethany!

  5. Mary Sayler

    Good word, Ava. Let animals be animals and people not be. 🙂

  6. AvaPennington

    Nicely put, Mary! 🙂

  7. Marti Pieper

    I need to be “bear aware” in my own neighborhood here in Central Florida. And praise God that I have the Holy Spirit to help keep me “sin aware,” too. Thanks, partner!

  8. AvaPennington

    Hi, Marti – we deal with the occasional bobcat and of course, gators, but no bears…at least none that I know of! But being “sin aware” is definitely required here, too!

  9. Barb Haley

    This is SO good, Ava. I’m going to print it and use it with my grandkids.

  10. AvaPennington

    Awww, thank you, Barb!

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