The Polar Bear Devil

The polar bear is one of nature’s most formidable creatures. Biologists consider them apex predators: they are the top of their food chains. No creature sees them as prey. Put simply, you don’t want to meet an apex predator on your next camping trip.

While the polar bear is king, the walrus isn’t exactly a wimp. Their large size, thick skin, and tusks make them difficult targets even for the mighty polar bears. The walrus outweighs the polar bear and has some aquatic tricks up its sleeve that make it a less appealing dinner than many other arctic creatures.

When a polar bear decides that walrus sounds good for lunch, it rarely attacks directly. Instead, it finds a herd of them and charges aggressively. While a polar bear generally wouldn’t win a battle against a pod of walruses, the walrus doesn’t know that. When the bear attacks, the walruses panic, charge, and stampede. Generally some walruses are crushed and wounded as the others escape.

I wonder if there isn’t a lesson to be learned here. Did you know that a fire at a movie theater isn’t usually as dangerous as the evacuation to avoid it? Many have been injured in the panic who would have been safe from the fire.

The devil likely acts a lot like that polar bear. A Christian’s defensive armor is far stronger than any weapon the devil has to throw at him, so he is reduced to two main tactics: separate him from the herd, or cause the herd to panic and wound him.

Can you think of someone who got separated from the body and the devil was able to pull him or her away? Can you think of someone who was hurt by the Christians around him because they were afraid of something else?

We don’t always realize that fear and isolation have real consequences. It is no wonder that Peter wrote, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Maybe he acts like a polar bear, too.

Cease & Desist!

After six days of creation, God “finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2) God certainly wasn’t tired. He didn’t need a break. He doesn’t nap or sleep! (See Psalm 121:4). So why rest?

If he didn’t need the rest, who does? You know the answer. Unlike God, you and I need rest. This isn’t a merely biological phenomenon. The God of the Universe could have designed us in any way he saw fit, yet he chose to make us spend 25%-33% of our lives asleep. Why?

I can’t speak for God. There’s not a verse that spells it out, but I have a theory. I think God has us sleep for two reasons: sleep causes us to recognize our limits and sleep brings us pleasure.

Did you know that a driver who has been awake for a full 24 hours responds as poorly as someone whose blood alcohol is .10? One study said that teens in school who scored C’s slept thirty minutes less per night than those who made A’s. We simply can’t function without sleep. God built into the human biology a reminder that we are not omniscient and omnipotent creatures without limits. Like it or not, we have to stop eventually! Sleep is the gentle tyrant. It can be delayed, but not defeated.

God also gives us rest as a gift. You can’t beat a good night’s sleep! The clichés are true: a good conscience is the best pillow. Peace makes for good rest. Trusting in God and living right before him are the best sleeping pills on the market. Psalms 127:2 says that God gives sleep to those he loves. He watches over us.

Let’s make sure that we honor the idea that God built into us. We need sleep nightly. We need Sabbath weekly. We need holidays periodically. We need Sabbatical occasionally. God made us that way!