House Church Talk - Two Good Legs

goodwordusa at goodwordusa at
Mon Nov 17 12:19:50 EST 2003

I will never forget the Sunday morning in 1995 when I visited a little 
Mennonite church in Indiana.  A man got up in the pulpit and quoted from a 
Barbara Streisand song, "People who need people are the luckiest people in 
the world..."  I remember shaking my head in disgust, thinking that such weak 
comments had no place in a gathering of God's people.  People need God's 
Word, not the proverbs of mortal men.

And I guess I would still say something along those lines.  However, the Lord 
does teach us as the people of God that we truly do need each other.  

If we are fortunate to have an averagely good family, we may learn that 
lesson at home.  It can be more difficult to learn such lessons as an adult, 
in the extended family of Christ's body, if we've never understood these 
things while growing up.  And I suspect that the weakness of home-life is 
behind some of the problems facing today's church.

I have two sons.  And like many siblings they were rivals in many ways, being 
very close in age, and very different in personality.  They are grown men 
now, with children of their own.  And they've not been very close as adults, 
still competing, I suppose, for whatever it is they are after in life.

My youngest son is in the Navy, and has also served 4 years in the Marines.  
My oldest is an over-the-road truck driver.  Both of them have had their good 
times and their bad times.  In recent years, my younger son, Caleb, has 
suffered from recurring kidney stones that have caused him severe pain and 
many treatments at the hands of military-approved physicians.  And in the 
last month, my older son, Josh, has been diagnosed with cancer, a strain of 
lymphoma that offers good hope for a cure in time.

Through their illnesses the Lord has taught them to cry out to Him.  In 
weakness they've been forced to see their need of God.  And with my oldest 
son's present crises with cancer, they are beginning to see how much they 
appreciate each other, and how they can each draw strength from the other's 
faith in the Lord.  The Lord uses each one to urge the other to depend on Him 
for help and strength.

The chastening of the Lord in our lives brings good results.  And one of the 
good results in my son's lives is that they have seen their need of God 
Himself, and they also now see the value of having each other as family, as 
brothers.  The Lord is good.

I was inspired by my sons' recent growth and interaction to write a little 
story.  I call it "Two Good Legs."  It follows below.

Two Good Legs  
[This story is for a couple of bears named Josh & Caleb who blessed my heart 
by learning to share their hearts with each other.]

Elber and Yonty were born 7 winters back to a young grizzly she-bear in 
Northwestern Montana.  Like all such cubs, they had the odds against them 
from the first.
Elber was a little darker along the shoulders than Yonty.  And both had the 
misfit mentality of grizzly cubs the first couple of years.  It was a real 
wonder that either of them survived, not knowing two things about fishing, 
berry hunting or even how to avoid bee stings while robbing honey.  Against 
all those odds stacked against them, they nevertheless grew stronger and 
After a while they were able to leave the momma bear behind.  They were 
figuring out how and where to fish.  They learned how to try and stand taller 
and yell louder than the other males whenever they were confronted.  They 
learned when and where to sleep when winter overtook them.  They figured out 
where the berries were and how to snatch them before the humans got to them.  
They each learned how to scare up a rabbit and other wild game.
This is not to say they were any smarter, faster, or better at hunting than 
other bears their age.  They were grizzlies, after all, and grizzlies are not 
known for being wise.  Grizzlies are known for being big and strong, for 
having a bad disposition, and for scaring the crap out of people who stumble 
onto them.
Last spring Elber ran into a clearing and surprised a poacher who was out for 
moose.  Elber was as surprised as the illegal hunter, and so he just did as 
he always did when confronted like that, he stood up tall and yelled really 
loud.  The hunter peed on himself, shot Elber in the left foot, then threw 
down the gun and ran for all he was worth.  I think he ran past New York City 
by now and is still running.  
When the noise and gunpowder had cleared the air, Elber was still trying to 
understand what had happened.  It took a while for him to understand that his 
foot was really hurting.  At such close range, the rifle bullet had gone 
clear through the foot, breaking a couple of small bones in passing.  The 
pain was a blazing fire that would not go away.  Elber limped down to the 
stream, in a mood that was dark even for a grizzly.  In the cold mountain 
water, the bear found a little numbing relief, but not much.
Yonty did not live or roam anywhere near his brother, Elber.  Grizzly 
families tend not to hang together a lot.  So he didn't know anything about 
Elber's run-in with the poacher.  But a few days later while he was crossing 
a high mountain road, minding his own business, a Jeep came out of nowhere 
and ran right into him.  It was good for both the bear and the driver that 
the road was rough and twisting, I guess.  The Jeep was going a lot slower 
than it would’ve been on a nice straight road.
Still, the front of the Jeep was messed up pretty bad, the airbag broke the 
driver's nose, and Yonty's right leg was fractured.  A lot of pain even for a 
grizzly bear.  More pain than the bear had ever known, in fact.  And the pain 
was renewed with every step Yonty tried to take.  Still, he managed to mostly 
drag himself down to the river where the rainbow trout and steelhead lived.
At the river, Yonty moaned aloud with his pain.  He could not tell if the 
cold water made anything better or not.  But he kept trying it, since it was 
all he had.  Wading out to a wide, shallow place, he sat down in the water.  

All he could think about was the pain.  It really hurt.  When he moved, it 
hurt.  When he sat still, it hurt.  If he stood up, it hurt.  So he just sat 
there and the fish swam way around him, staying clear of those sharp front 
A day or so later, Yonty was laying on the river bank, swiping at fish now 
and again.  He was hungry.  His leg still hurt, but he was getting used to 
it, as long as he didn’t try to stand or walk.  He could not walk, and 
running was out of the question, so hunting or moving to a better fishing 
spot were not options.  

A noise behind him made him look, and there was another grizzly, as big and  
angry-looking as he was, except that he had darker markings along the 
shoulders.  Both bears instinctively rose up and growled really loud, and 
then both yelled in pain and bent over quickly.  

Elber grabbed his left foot which was shooting fireballs of pain up his whole 
left side.  The wound was pretty dirty and had swelled up quite a bit.  Yonty 
rubbed his right leg, which did nothing to make it feel any better.  Both 
bears tried to stand and yell again, and both bowed down again right away in 
pain.  They did this several times like some kind of crazy war dance.  

Then they finally recognized each other.
"Hello, Brother." Elber said, sitting on the ground and holding his sore foot 
in his forepaws.
"Hi, Elber." Yonty said. "What brings you over to the this part of the river?"
"On my way to the honey tree in the south valley.  I need to get some honey 
in this hole in my foot." Elber said.  "What's with you?  Your leg hurt?"
"One of those stupid human shiny-things hit me the other day.  It still hurts 
a lot.  Slowing me down."  Yonty said.
Elber looked at his brother grizzly and could see that the pain was very 
bad.  He said, "I know where some bushes are with leaves that will help that 
pain.  That will get you by until your leg gets better.  In fact, the bushes 
are not far from the honey tree."
"How do you do that?" Yonty asked. "You always seem to know just where to 
find the right stuff for any occasion."
Elber gruffed a smile, still rubbing his left foot.  It was true.  Elber did 
know a lot about some things.  He always seemed to run into good things here 
and there. And he learned by watching other animals eat this or that, or do 
this or that, when they had different needs.  It was his way.
After a bit he said, "Well, why don't you come with me, Brother?"
"I'd like to, Elber.  But I can't stand to walk at all."  Yonty said.  He 
hated to admit to his brother that he was that bad off.  But why try to hide 
it?  Yonty was not able to walk.
"Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe you can," Elber said.  "Between us, we still have 
two good feet, and two good legs.  In the Creator's goodness, He did not let 
us both get hurt on the same sides."
And moving over to his brother's right side, Elber reached out and placed his 
arm under Yonty's arm, lifting a little.  The two brothers held each other up 
as best they could and managed to hobble off across the clearing and over the 
hill.  As they went along, they got better and better at walking together.
"Hey, Elber, I know a great fishing hole over there, just south of your honey 
tree valley." Yonty said.
"Oh yeah?" Elber realized suddenly just how hungry he was.  "That sounds 
good.  How do you always manage to know where the best food is?”
"Oh, I know some things."  Yonty said, smiling as much as any grizzly can.
And humming an old bear tune, the two grizzlies hobbled off into the 

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