“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).”
“Big Jim” Cole is not off to a great start. He has inherited several hundred acres of prime land in Wyoming, but keeping it is another story.
First, there is the matter of the neighbor who is determined to take it away from him. Jed Curry lost the land to Big Jim’s grandpa in a poker game fair and square.
But Jed persistently angles to get it back for his sons. They are young men, but they are only adult in terms of their physiques. They regularly harass Big Jim and his family.
Then, there is the old enemy who shows up in town. Former lawman Big Jim sent Cass Dowdy (once a friend and on the right side of the law) to jail and the latter aims to settle the score.
Finally, Big Jim has a wild beast to deal with. This animal is destroying his new ranch piece by piece.
The human foes pale in comparison to this monster, Big Jim’s worst nightmare. His biggest problem is a grizzly bear appropriately named Satan. The bear is the main focus of the story told in the movie “Night of the Grizzly”.
Satan is not just any grizzly. He is plum crazy. The bear kills and destroys just because he can.
Satan wrecks Big Jim’s fences, kills the beautiful bull he had intended to use to populate his herd, and decimates his flock of sheep. While not pleased, Big Jim doesn’t plan to let the bear stand in his way. He goes after Satan, but fails, at least in the beginning.
Satan keeps on pillaging. He kills two men, including Big Jim’s longtime friend and employee Sam Potts. The grizzly takes off the arm of another man.
The night before Big Jim’s decides to hunt and kill Satan once and for all, his wife Angela threatens to leave if he carries out his plan. She has had enough. She can’t really be blamed inasmuch as she has had plenty of sleepless nights in the past wondering if Big Jim would come home alive when he was chasing desperadoes.
Big Jim gives her the “a man’s gotta do what he has to do” speech. Not only will killing the grizzly rid them of their own personal problems, but the reward money will get them out of the debt they have incurred because of Satan’s evil activities. However, Angela is not convinced and tells Big Jim that when he comes back, the rest of the family will be gone.
Unbeknownst to Big Jim and his wife, their son Charlie has overheard the whole spat. The boy is troubled by the conflict between his normally loving parents and decides to take matters into his own hands.
He sets out after Satan himself, with his gun and pint-sized dog in tow. Learning of this the next morning, Big Jim follows Charlie, intending to rescue him and knock off Satan, too.
Before he can even get to the boy and the bear Big Jim has to engage in a gunfight with Cass, who is also after the reward. The latter is temporarily blinded during the shootout by a gunpowder flash and Big Jim continues on to the final battle with Satan.
In the final crisis, Satan comes close to winning. He corners Charlie in a tree and Big Jim in a hole.
However, Cass (who has recovered his vision) comes along and goes after the bear. He wants the money, but he also cares for Charlie and obviously doesn’t want harm to come to the boy.
In the chaos, Cass is killed by Satan. This, however, gives Big Jim the time and opportunity to finally gun the bear down
Big Jim’s battle with the appropriately named Satan is one of courage. His story reveals the nature of courage, which is that it is a paradox. One aspect of a paradox, as defined by Wikiquotes, is that it is a “situation which defies logic or or intuition.”
The logical thing for Big Jim to do would have been to know when he had been licked and leave town. His wife’s intuition told her that “getting out of Dodge” was the sane and safe course of action. Right thinking would have meant that he would have listened to his wife.
However, Big Jim wanted a new life, one that had promise for him and his family. Thus he made up his mind to fight for what he wanted despite the odds.
G.K.. Chesterton, “The Prince of Paradox”, wrote these words:
The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.
Chesterton further analyzed the nature of courage this way:
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers.
Jesus calls us at times to do the unreasonable or illogical thing. Take for example His teaching in Matthew 6 in which he tells His followers to not worry about provision.
Jesus explains that worrying about things like food and clothing is the mark of a “pagan”, not of a believer. He tells his disciples that if they live for Him and make His kingdom their primary concern that God will give them what they need from day to day. (See Matthew 6:31-33, Life Recovery Bible.)
This command goes against the grain of someone like me who has been raised in the materialistic American culture. “Why”, I tell myself. “I can’t (fill in the blank with a seemingly impossible task which involves putting Him first over my finances). We’ll go off the abyss.”
Yet, this is what Jesus tells me to do. I have to decide if I am going to overcome my fear and do it.
I am motivated by the idea that if I do what He commands, I will be rewarded. God will open the floodgates of heaven for me (Malachi 3:10). He even wants me to put Him to the test, and counter the prevailing logic.
I am aware that standing next to those floodgates is my own personal grizzly who is also named Satan. He is far worse than anything Hollywood can create, AND he is real (I Peter 5:8).
My mind tells me to give up and go another direction. After all, when I encounter overwhelming opposition, isn’t this the wise course?
Not so. Like Big Jim, if I want to gain my inheritance and see the promises of God fulfilled in my life, then the only strategy is to go on the offensive and beat back old Satan. It’s paradoxical and even my body cries out in pain as I go about something that my intellect tells me is totally absurd.
I am encouraged in my fight by what the apostle Paul wrote in relation to obstacles. He noted that we are like sheep being slaughtered, every single day. But Paul said that I overwhelming victory will be mine through Jesus Christ who loves me despite the dangers (Romans 8:37-39).
Time to lock and load. Gotta go and get my 10-guage.