By ROBIN, MOMSTHEWORD, KAY, JULIE, QUEEN
It was summer and there wasn't anything to do. Bear had already gone to the library, watched television and cleaned his room. His little sister, Summer, was nagging him to take her to the park down the street. If mom would let him, that was better than doing nothing.
"M-M-Mom, can Summer and me go to the park?" he hollered to his mom who was in the kitchen.
In her most teacher-like voice she answered, "May Summer and I go to the park? And yes, you may go to the park. Take your watch. I don't want you to be gone more than an hour. Keep an eye on Summer at all times. Don't leave her alone. And Bear?"
"Yes, Mom," he sighed with impatience.
"Don't talk to strangers or go with anyone even if you know them. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Mom. We'll be b-b-back in an hour." Summer and Bear walked out the door and down the street. It was going to be a great day after all.
Bear could tell Summer was excited to be going to the park with him. She was skipping and holding his hand. Sometimes he wouldn’t let her hold his hand, but then her feelings got hurt. He didn’t like to make her feel bad.
“Bear, why are you named ‘Bear’?” Summer asked him for 200th time. “Is it because when you were born, you were bare? Or maybe because you were so hairy?”
“Summer, you know why my name is Bear.”
Summer clapped her hands together for joy. She loved this story. “I forget. Tell me.” To her Bear was as brave and strong as a bear. She would go anywhere with him because she wasn’t afraid.
“It’s because the day I was born Mom saw a bear in the woods and she saw another one in a cage on a circus train. She thought that was a sign from God, so she named me Bear.” There were more parts to the story, but Bear didn’t want to get into them since they were almost at the park.
Summer squealed. “Yeah, Bear. Mom named you Bear and you been strong and hairy ever since.” She looked sideways at him to see if he would respond to her teasing.
“Summer, you better start running, ‘cause I’m gonna get you. Grrrrrr.” They ran the rest of the way to the park.
Bear was thinking. He’d get Summer busy playing on the little kid toys and then he would go climb that big oak tree that sat behind the tennis court. He’d still be able to keep an eye on Summer and she could see him.
“Summer, you stay here and play on the swings and slide with the other little kids. I’m gonna go look around.” Summer obediently starting playing with some little girls they knew from the neighborhood.
Bear ran to the big tree and started climbing. “Boy, I can see half the neighborhood from up here!” Bear said excitedly. “This would be a cool place to have a tree house.” Just as Bear was settling onto the biggest limb he could find, he looked down.
“Oh, no!” he cried. He saw his little sister climbing up the tree. “S-S-Summer, I told you to play with the little kids. What are you doin’ here?”
He started down toward her about the same time she began to scream, “Bear! Bear! I’m stuck. I can’t go up or down. Help me!”
Bear was really afraid for Summer. She was just a little kid. He prayed, “Jesus, please keep my feet from getting t-t-tangled up. P-P-please don’t let me fall.” Bear continued to climb down slowly. He didn’t want to scare Summer even more because she was already near tears. He reached her and grabbed her by the arm. He then carefully worked his way around her, concentrating on keeping control of his big feet, and then he settled himself on the next big limb below.
“Take hold of my hand, Summer. Let go of the tree. I’ll keep you safe,” he coaxed quietly. She cautiously reached down to take his hand. He talked her down onto the limb where he stood with his legs braced. “You know, Summer. This is not exactly the f-f-first t-t-time you’ve gotten s-s-stuck in a tree!”
Summer hung her head and answered him, “I know Bear, but I love to climb trees, ‘specially with you. You saved me. You’re just like God,”
“No, only G-G-God is just like God. He’s the one who used me to help you.” Bear was trembling inside because he had been so afraid.
The next day Bear was running over by the school. He saw Greggie standing near the school doors with his friend Clyde and some other boys. “Have a nice trip” Greggie said as he stuck out his foot and tripped Bear.
“See you next fall!” his friend Clyde joined in. Their laughter burned in Bear’s ears. He didn’t trip, of course. That stupid Greggie shoved him.
Earlier today Greggie had taken the money Bear had saved up for the candy store. Yesterday he had made Summer cry. Bear was getting sick of this.
Bear grabbed his friend, Tommy’s extended hand and pulled himself up. Tommy darted his eyes between Greggie and Bear and slowly backed away. “Let’s go, man.”
“You chicken, Amigo? Don’t you want to show me what you’re made of, cucaracha?” Greggie sneered and then looked to his buddies for approval. They laughed on cue.
“Let’s go.” Tommy said again.
“You know, T-T-Tommy, I don’t th-think I want to go.”
“T-t-t-t-t-t-t. Listen to da widdle baby try to talky walky.” Greggie strutted around in front of his friends.
“You are a big b-b-b-bully and I hate you!” Bear dove for Greggie and knocked him to the ground before he knew what he was doing. Greggie’s friends began yelling and Bear didn’t know if Tommy was even still around.
Bear just hit Greggie as hard as he could until without knowing how, he was on the ground and Greggie was on top of him. He saw a glimpse of Tommy in the background just before his vision went red and his nose crunched. He screamed and kicked and felt Greggie pulling at him.
“That’s enough, boys!” He saw Mr. Binkly, the school principal, tug Greggie up. Bear struggled to his feet and cupped his bleeding nose with his hands. Tommy looked pale, but he had stuck around. That’s what counted. Bear nodded at him to let him know he was okay.
A hand grasped his collar and Mr. Binkly guided him to the office. Boy, he was in for it now. A boy wasn’t supposed to get in trouble at school in the summer. But he sure let that Greggie know something, didn’t he?
After a rough week dealing with Greggie, Bear’s worst enemy, Bear didn’t feel like listening when his Sunday school teacher started talking about loving your enemies. It was the last thing on his mind to even consider caring about Greggie after all he’d done to hurt him over the years, but Bear was a good boy who really wanted to live for Jesus, so he listened in spite of himself.
Mrs. Johnson told the class, “There will be times when people do things that cause you pain, but we need to follow the example of Jesus and forgive them and love them anyhow.”
A girl from in the class interrupted to share an example, “My little brother sometimes does things to annoy me, but mom told me that he would stop if I included him more when I play. And you know what? It works!”
Mrs. Johnson thanked Cindy and continued, “In Mark 11:25 Jesus said, ‘And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.’”
The final bell rang and the students began preparing to find their parents. Mrs. Johnson called order and closed in prayer.Bear sat in his chair as the other children scurried off. He was troubled by the verse Mrs, Johnson shared and knew that he needed to forgive Greggie because Jesus forgave him, but he didn’t know what to do.
Mr. Johnson appeared at the classroom door to greet his wife and noticed that Bear looked sad. He asked Bear if he needed to talk. Bear shook his head while a tear escaped down his cheek. Mr. Johnson put his hand on Bear’s shoulder and led him to a quiet corner to talk.
Bear shared, “Greggie p-p-picks on me all the time and I really hate him, but today Mrs. Johnson told us that we have to f-f-forgive our enemies because Jesus forgave us. It makes sense, but I don’t see how I can do it.”
Mr. Johnson talked with Bear during the church service upstairs. He said, “Bear, there are times when people hurt us because they have been hurt so much they don’t know any other way to act. Sometimes they just need to feel and know the love of Jesus and it will make all the difference.”
Finally Bear decided that he wanted to pray and ask Jesus to forgive his bad attitude toward Greggie. He prayed, “Lord, please help me to f-f-forgive Greggie when he does mean things to me and help me to show kindness to him instead. Help m-m-me to be the boy you want me to be even when it’s hard. Thank you Jesus, for loving and forgiving me and help me to love and forgive all I meet. Amen.”
Bear looked up at Mr. Johnson and threw his arms around him and thanked him for listening and praying and ran upstairs to tell his mom the good news.
Bear was finally able to sneak away from Summer for awhile. She had fallen asleep under the picnic table in the backyard. He asked Mom if it was alright for him to go to the park by himself. She said okay but also added all her “be carefuls” and “don’ts” that he had heard every time. He agreed and started up the sidewalk.
“Boy, it’s cool to be here by myself,” he whispered. “I love S-S-Summer but s-s-sometimes I just want to be s-s-somewhere without her for a little while.”
It was fun playing on the swings by himself but impossible to play on the seesaw. And He could run as fast as he wanted to make the merry-go-round go around without having to worry about his little sister.
Bear got hot and decided to go sit under the big oak tree behind the tennis courts. He had just settled down when he saw a dog scurrying through the bushes on the other side of the park fence. He jumped up and climbed over the fence. He was pretty certain that the dog was holding up one of his legs so maybe it was injured. Bear plowed his way through the bushes.
Bear suddenly felt himself falling. He didn’t have time to grab hold of any of the bushes to stop his fall. He landed hard and hit his head. When he sat up he saw that he was in a hole. He stood and realized that he couldn’t reach the top to pull himself up. He started yelling at the top of his lungs, “Help! Help! S-S-Somebody help me. I’m in a hole in the w-w-woods behind the tennis courts. Please come h-h-help me!”
Bear sat down and brushed the tears from his cheeks. He couldn’t be seen crying by anyone who might come to help him. He stood up and yelled again, only not quite as loud as before. He thought to himself, “No one is going to hear me. No one was anywhere near here in the park. Mom is going to get really scared when I don’t come home but she’ll come looking for me. She knows I’m at the park, well, kinda at the park.”
His head jerked up. He had heard a voice calling, “Where are you?” Oh boy, thought Bear, someone had heard him, and the voice sounded vaguely familiar.
Bear heard someone pushing bushes out of the way. He was a little scared it might be some of the boys who teased him so much. A little blond head of hair peeked over the edge of the hole. It was Summer! Bear cried out, "Oh Summer, it’s you. How did you find me?"
Summer said, "Mom told me that were at the park and I could come find you. ’Just be careful and don't speak to any strangers', she said in a sing-song voice imitating her mother. “So I heard you yelling, and I could tell you was scared.” She reached down and grabbed Bear's hand and held onto a bush with the other. Bear was able to climb up enough to get hold of the bush and pull himself up.
"Oh, thank you, S-S-Summer,” Bear said almost tearfully, "You s-s-saved my life. Let’s go home right away.”
Bear whistled as he biked down the street. It was a lovely morning and Summer was at a friend’s house, so he was free.
“Bear! Bear, come here,” Greggie’s voice called from somewhere.
Great. Just what he needed. He looked around to see where Greggie was.
“Over here, behind the bush. I need help.”
Bear dropped his bike and slowly walked in the direction of Greggie’s voice, looking around as he did. This could be an ambush. When he came to the other side of the bush he saw Greggie sitting on the ground with a giant dog. The dog’s head filled Greggie’s lap.
“He’s a Mastiff. I’ve seen them in books. Isn’t he awesome?”
Bear nodded and took a step back.
“He’s gentle. These are good dogs. But he’s scared.” Greggie stroked the dog’s ear. “He’s hurt. I don’t know what happened, but he’s hurt.”
Bear widened his eyes as he saw blood on the dog’s back legs. “W-W-What are you going to do?”
“I need you to bring me some water. And do you have a wagon?”
“We can’t get him into a wagon. He must weigh five hundred pounds!” Bear retrieved his water bottle from his bike and handed it to Greggie.
“Do you have a better idea?”
“Does he have a collar? That kind of dog must belong to someone.”
“No, he doesn’t have one. He might belong to someone. I don’t know.”
“Then we need to get my parents. We need someone strong to help us.”
Greggie wiped his eyes quickly then put on a tough face. Bear pretended he didn’t see. “I wanted to do this myself.” Greggie said. “I wanted to do something good all by myself.”
Bear looked at his feet. Greggie wanted to do something good? Seems like he had plenty of opportunities to try that.
“Go ahead. Get your dad. He’ll help, I bet. I know mine won’t.”
Bear looked back as he peddled away and saw Greggie resting his head on the broad forehead of his new friend. He shook his head in amazement.
Bear and Tommy were going to Scout Camp for the first time. They were the oldest boys to go to camp who had never been before, and some of the other campers started to tease them about it.
"Watch out for snakes!" cried one boy, "Yeah! Watch out for snakes and bats!" echoed his freckled-face friend.
"Don't pay any attention to them, Bear" Tommy said as they were setting up their tent. "They are just stupid anyway." Tommy added.
But Bear had never slept out in the real woods before, and the teasing boys did make him a little afraid of what might happen once it got dark. He thought those boys were gonna try to scare them during the night...he felt sure of it.
That night after everyone had settled down to sleep, Bear found that he just couldn't close his eyes. He really tried, but shadows and noises kept him awake.All of a sudden, something thumped against the side of his tent.
Bear grabbed his flashlight and decided that he was sick and tired of those other boys teasing him. So he slowly crawled to the tent flap and got ready to pounce. "Someone is gonna be surprised all right, but it won't be me," Bear thought.
Bear heard shuffling coming closer to the tent flap, and when he thought they were right on the other side he turned on his light, jumped out of the tent and gave a huge Indian war cry, all at the same time!
Bear's war cry went up five notches when he realized that he was looking into the fuzzy brown face of a "real" bear! The animal tripped over backwards, and ran out of camp to the safety of the trees, knocking over several tents on the way.
After the camp got settled back down and some calm had resumed, Tommy patted Bear on the back and said, "It's not your fault Bear. They never said to watch out for bears!" They both laughed.
The end for now