Last Saturday, a polar bear preached to me

Friday I was in a funk. I’m not sure what brought it on. But I’m sure you have had those days when you couldn’t shake your feelings of guilt and hopelessness. You wondered if your life had purpose. You wondered if anything you did really mattered.

That was Friday.

Then Saturday came.

My daughter and I decided to go to the Como Zoo in St. Paul’s. (Everyone else in our home was visiting family and friends.)

When we got there, we went directly to the polar bear exhibit. They are my favorite. I love their white fur, massive frames, and their incredible abilities. Did you know that a polar bear can smell a seal from 20 miles away?!

Normally when you enter the exhibit, the bears are laying around day dreaming of the colder days to come.

But not this time.

This time the polar bear was in the water with an empty yellow bucket in its mouth, the kind used for kitty litter. It would toss the bucket in the air like my son throwing pop flies to himself. Then it pounced on the bucket like a 900lb house cat. Then it rolled around in the water, flipping the bucket in its paws, like a giant puppy with a new chew toy.

A thought popped into my head. (Was it from the Spirit? I don’t know.) If this bear can find joy under these conditions, then so can I.

I have much more reason to play and rejoice. I’m God’s special creature, made in his image. I have been adopted into God’s family through Jesus. He continues to count the hairs on my head. And soon he will renew me in the world to come!

The bear also led me to think about Apostle Paul. This giant of a missionary was locked up, unable to roam the Empire for Christ. And yet, he still wrote the following words:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! …

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4,8,9)

Doesn’t he sound like he has the heart of that polar bear, playfully worshiping his God even from prison?

It was the Psalmist who first said that creation preaches sermons (Psalm 19:1–4, 148:7–12). I agree. On Saturday that polar preached to me. He preached a sermon on the glory, laughter, and happiness of God.

Through that creature, I saw a glimpse of my Creator. Through that polar bear, I was reminded of Paul’s playfulness. And I’ve been rejoicing ever since.

Below is the video I took. I didn’t capture all that the polar bear was doing. But this will give you a glimpse of his pouncing and playing.

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Polar bear playing with bucket

Originally published at on August 30, 2017.