Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stop and Smell the Bison by Mike DeCamp

A Bison Blockade

Earlier this year, in late June, my wife and I enjoyed a long-awaited and long-planned vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  If you’ve never been there, God’s creation is amazingly on display: mountains, canyons, streams, lakes, eagles, elk, bear, and bison.  Everywhere you turn there is something incredible to see.  And, after planning for months, saving for equally as long, flying across the country, driving six hours from the airport to the park, I was more than happy to take my time to see what God had created.

One of the commons experiences in Yellowstone is the “Bison Blockade.”  Rather than being the prowess of the Harding University football team’s offensive line, it is the effect on traffic that occurs in Yellowstone when the bison decide to take a stroll down the road.  In effect, they rule the road, and our self-important selves have no choice but to pause and let them pass…at their own pace.  It may be one bull strutting his stuff, or it could be a whole herd just trying to get to the greener pasture; either way, humanity has to stop and make way.

Another common experience is the traffic jam caused by a rare animal sighting just off the side of the road.  A few times it was a group of elk or more bison, but the biggest jams were caused by the occasional grizzly bear or a wondering wolf.  All it takes is someone to throw on the brakes and pull over to the side, and then all bets are off.  People would pull to the shoulders, onto the grass, wherever they could get the vehicle stopped, and then sprint over to see the wild creature.  People running this way…that way…crossing in front of other cars.  Cars stopping in the road…from both directions.  Rangers directing traffic.  It was exhilarating, but also a little bit scary.

Most of us were happy to stop and enjoy the experience.  After all, these things are not something you see every day in Indiana.  But, somehow not everyone shared that perspective.  I don’t know why.  I don’t know what the issues were in their lives.  But after going to all the time and expense of traveling to that amazing wild paradise, those people were so intent on getting to the next tourist spot that they would lose all composure during the wildlife traffic jams.  Or, they would pop a gasket because they had to follow the slow pace of other tourists as they enjoyed the views.  Laying on the horn.  Passing on mountain roads.  Speeding.

Too intent on their destination to enjoy the journey.

Seems like I have done that.  In my spiritual life.  So eager to get that Bible chapter read that I fail to grasp the detail of the message.  Too eager to say what I need to say to hear that need someone else is expressing.  Feeling too much pressure to conform to the rules to allow my heart to be free to experience God’s most amazing creation—Grace.  Tooting my own horn.  Passing people by as I hurry to my next project or plan.  In too much of a hurry to get to the next stage in my life to enjoy the stage I’m in.

Can you relate?

I need to slow down and open my eyes.  I need to see the world around me.  The good.  And, the not so good.  If God notices the sparrow falling to the ground, maybe I should notice their beauty as they flitter around.  If God clothes the grass of the field with flowers, maybe I could give a shirt to someone in need.  And not worry about what it will cost me.  (See Matthew 6:25-34)  If Christ can carry the burden of my sin on the cross, perhaps I can carry the burden of someone’s pain long enough to give their spirit a boost.  (See Galatians 6:2)  If God gives me living water, the least I could do is share it with my neighbor.  (See John 4:9-10)  And, even more basic…if someone is hungry…I could give them something to eat.  If they are thirsty, I could give them something to drink.  I can be someone who meets needs.  (See Matthew 25:34-36)

Can you see the cute ground squirrel?
God has set us on a great journey.  Our destination is life eternal in a place that is so magnificent that we can only grasp the edges of its wonder.  But, as we drive down the roads of our lives, striving for that final goal, let’s not forget that God has placed important stops along the way.  Things He wants us to see.  Things He wants us to do.  People we need to help.

I heard Monte Cox share in a sermon last week:  “God is looking for people who are looking for people who are looking for Him.”

Let’s do it….you…and me….Let’s open our eyes to the wonders of God working around us.  And, let’s not skim past the adventures He has placed in our paths.  Let's not be so self-consumed that we fail to stop and smell the bison; experiencing the day to day wonders of the journey that God has presented to us. Let's look for God looking for us, and then look around for those who are looking for Him. 

This guy kept getting between me and the elk I wanted to photograph, so finally I just took his picture.  An illustration that sometimes, it is unexpected people who need to draw our attention.

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