Fred Craddock tells a story about how he went over to one of the leader’s in his church, whose name was mister Staples. He was talking with Mr. Staples in the living room of their home, and he noticed in the backyard was Mr. Staples son, Jimmy Staples. He had always wanted to be a preacher, and he was standing on a tree stump pretending to preach the same sermon over and over again. It went like this:

“If you’re afraid of the dark, don’t worry, Jesus will take care of you. If you’re afraid of storms, don’t worry, Jesus will take care of you. If you’re afriad of horses, don’t worry, Jesus will take care of you. And if you see a bear, you better run!”

I had a dream last night. I don’t usually have dreams that I remember vividly, but I awoke this morning from REM sleep with the details of what happened clear in my mind.

In my dream I was driving my car by Albertsons, the grocery store. It was night, and I saw out of the corner of my eye, a man running as fast as he could in the lights of the Albertsons parking lot. I looked a little bit closer and saw that some kind of creature was chasing him. Then I noticed that the creature was a grizzly bear. This man was frantically running for his life, and he ran into the Albertsons.

Immediately, I picked up the phone and dialed 911. I saw a bunch of people running out of the Albertsons and screaming, so I decided to move in and see if everything was ok with the man who was being chased. The lights were all on in the store, but the store was empty…shopping carts all over the place had been abandoned in all the chaos. I heard a scream from the back of the store, and ran back through all the aisles. There in the corner was the man, cornered by the hungry grizzly.

Panicking, I moved into action. I started yelling and screaming at the bear. I grabbed whatever I could find…canned goods, two-liter bottles of soda, loaves of bread, at the bear to distract him. The beast turned and looked directly at me… his attention was now off the man, who retreated quickly out a back door, leaving myself standing face to face with the giant bear.

With no other options, I made a run for it. I bolted as quickly as I could away from the bear, hurdling shopping carts, weaving in and out of aisels, and when I got out of site from the bear, I grabbed a blanket that was on a random display rack and covered myself with it, hoping the bear would not see me.

And right at this point in my dream, for some odd reason, the lights in the store went out.

So there I am, crouched in the darkness of this grocery store, a killer bear after me. I lay very still and silent. Suddenly, I heard the pad pad of the bears paws on the tile floor drawing closer to me. A low growl bellowed out from the beast, who was now directly upon me. I felt a claw swipe at the blanket with terrifying ferocity.

I remember thinking in my dream… “this is where I wake up… I know this is a dream, I know this is a dream.” I was pulling out all the tricks to pull myself out of this dream. The bear swiped the blanket from me, and I make a dash for the front door. About this time, I heard two screams. A young girl and her sister were still in the store. I screamed at them to run, but it was too late… the bear got ahold of one of them and ripped her apart. It happened so fast, I couldn’t do anything.

Standing in entryway, I had a moment of deliberation. Another girl was trapped in the Albertsons… no police had shown up, and I knew this girl was going to die if I didn’t do something. There was a long pole that they use to screw stop signs to sitting near the entrance. I grabbed the pole, and made my way towards the grizzly bear. Seeing me approach, the bear turned away from the girl and came towards me. He roared a thundring roar, revealing his huge, bloody teeth, and got up on two legs.

In a moment of sheer adrenline, I bellowed like a Norse god and drove the pole deep into the heart of the bear. The thousand pound animal slummped on top of me, dead, the little girl ran safely out of the building.

And there I lay, with the bear, my bear, slain on top of me, but still trapped beneath its weight, unable to move. And about this time, to end this dream of dreams, the neon lights which lit the halls of the Albertsons flickered, and then went out.

What’s your bear?

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