Elk, Goats, and Bears, Oh My!
I think God enjoys us challenging Him sometimes. I think He likes showing off His power and might to us. When we ask Him for things that are outside of our control, and only He can do something with, He will often show up in cool ways. I think it is mostly to remind us of how much He really does love us! It’s like when a child really wants an ice cream. He has asked for it, but knows that the day is so full of errands and busyness that it probably won’t happen. Then the Dad pulls into McDonald’s at the most unexpected and random time of the day and blesses the child with the desired ice cream.
My husband Michael and I were out west visiting some of our siblings and friends. He had never been out there before, so I planned four days of camping in the Rocky Mountains. It was at the beginning of July, so the tourist season was just starting to pick up. We were told that we might be able to spot some wildlife because of that. I had lived out west for a summer and the only wildlife I ever saw were a few mountain goats on the side of a cliff … during the drive out there.
The wildlife was the one thing Michael wanted to see most while we were there. The scenery was breathtaking as always. We enjoyed beautiful hikes through Banff and Jasper. We had fun camping in the mountains, although I must admit that I didn’t really think that one through. Considering it is the mountains after all, it was freezing in the middle of the night and in the morning! I had to warm my hands back up in the dish water after breakfast each day because I could barely feel them. If we’re crazy enough to do it again, Long Johns and a good pair of gloves will be purchased, regardless of the season!
Anyways, we had come to the fourth day. We had seen different kinds of birds and chipmunks. Albeit cute, they were nothing to write home about. I had prayed each day that Michael would be able to see something special. I had let my eyes gaze through every wooded area we drove by. I had seen some elk in a culvert area we had driven by, but they were gone by the time we stopped the car, got the camera, and walked over to it.
We were only about an hour from the end of Jasper Park. I was getting really disappointed and praying up a storm to see something. We were in a really hard season of life, and I felt that Michael needed this gift. This was the gift I really wanted him to have, and so I shared my heart with the Lord.
We were rounding a corner about half an hour to the end of the park, when all of a sudden, we saw two male Elk about ten feet from the edge of the road! It was a beautiful scenery as they were munching on grass beside a lake. We pulled over and were able to get amazing pictures of them. We sat in awe of God’s goodness as we watched the beautiful animals. We were so grateful!
As we got back in the car and started off again, I was sharing my satisfaction and gratitude to God providing that moment for us. Then Michael challenged me. “Are you going to stop there? Don’t you think God can do more?” I was grateful for what God had done, but felt prompted to keep praying. I felt the excitement building.
We had driven only ten more minutes when we rounded another corner. We saw some cars pulled over, and as we looked up the side of the mountain, there were tons of White Mountain Goats! They were in between shedding their winter hair. There were all different age ranges from little kids to large aged goats. We took time to stop, take some photos, and take in the moment. Again, we were in awe of God’s goodness to us! He was showing favour to us and we were so grateful.
That moment fired me up. I said, “Okay God, if you can do both of these amazing things, remind us of just how powerful You are. Please show us a bear! If you do, I will gladly proclaim this story and Your greatness to others!”
We hadn’t seen anything for a bit. I was frantically searching the woods for any signs. Then we came to the end of Jasper Park. We passed the booths and my heart sank a little. I knew that there was still plenty of land from Jasper to Edmonton, Alberta, but I thought the quest was over. I thanked the Lord for what He had blessed us with, but still wanted to hold on to that last request.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I might have seen something black. I told Michael to slow down, and I turned to look again. Sure enough, a black bear meandered out of the woods! We were only about 50 feet from passing the booths at Jasper when we saw it. No other cars stopped to watch. God gave us this moment to ourselves, and it was incredible. The bear wandered around totally unaware of our presence, as he/she enjoyed some berries.
Wow! In a hard season, when we desperately needed to be reminded of God’s presence, love, and faithfulness in our lives, He showed up in amazing ways and left us in awe! There have been so many times since then that I have reflected back on that moment and am reminded that God is here with us. He does greatly care, He is going before us, and He is concerned for our hearts. He desires us to draw near to Him so that He can lavish His love on us.
The Lord might not always come through with our random requests. He may seem silent for a while in some of our hardest battles, but don’t lose heart. He is here and He hears your prayers. Look for the ways He is making Himself known in your life. It can be in completely random and unusual ways. But He is always near, tending to our needs, and wanting to show His love for us.