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Saturday, August 15, 2015
The Northwest Passage, Part One: The Surprise
“By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing where he was going” -Heb. 11:8 Some of us like surprises and some of us hate them! For those who despise surprises, I don’t think the word “hate” is strong enough! It’s a good thing to research before you organize a surprise party for a friend. Throw a party for an “un-surpriser” and it can be a disaster. But God is a God of surprises and He’s not waiting for our permission. Jeanie and I encountered a surprise this week and it was awesome. We discovered again that God’s surprises might…uh…surprise us, but they are always wonderful. We were asked to be a part of a conference for Pastors in Billings, Montana. It provided much needed rest and retreat for Pastors and their families from all over Montana. What a wonderful group of people. Neither one of us had ever been to Montana. The Northwest is a bit of a mystery to us both. But we were so excited to get to go on an adventure. We decided to come a few days early, before the conference, and see some of the beauty of Montana and Wyoming via Yellowstone Park. After the conference, we’d be continuing the trek to Portland, Oregon to visit Jeanie’s brother, Bill, and to see the sites in Oregon and Washington. But first, we landed in Billings, rented a car and headed to the Northeast gate of the massive Yellowstone National Park. We knew it would take a few hours to get there and that the road would be a bit curvy, but no big deal…so we thought. Bear Tooth Highway would be throwing us a surprise party of it’s own. The Bear Tooth Highway is an All-American Road that has been called "the most beautiful drive in America," by late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt. Because of heavy snowfall at the top, the pass is usually open each year only from mid May through mid October, weather conditions permitting. It is the section of U.S. Route 212 between Red Lodge, Montana and Cooke City, Montana. It traces a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks, along the Montana-Wyoming border to the 10,947 foot high Bear Tooth Pass. The approximate elevation rise is from 5,200 ft to 8,000 ft in 12 miles and has the most daring landscapes. LESSON #1: Focus on the journey, not the destination. Bear Tooth Highway is the route from Billings to the Northeast gate of Yellowstone. For us, the prize would be to get to Yellowstone Park- the destination. But the surprise was the journey TO the park. I catch myself (and sometimes don’t) focused on the end and not the journey to the end. It’s called “being in the moment.” It doesn’t mean we don’t set goals, but it does mean we’re giving “due diligence” to the present. Of course, this awesome, gorgeous (literally) highway demanded our attention, but the lesser routes deserve no less. The route and the people all have something to offer us along the way. But we have to be careful not to miss it. LESSON #2: Embrace the fear in the fog. We expected a simple route but we encountered a complex system of switchbacks and curves in the foggy mountains. Initially, we were checking the Garmin for alternate routes but soon we were marveling at the scenery. Sure, it was scary and risky but we settled down and appreciated the rush in the rough. We were not in control and that was okay. We were safe and it was beautiful. LESSON #3: Blow out the candles. Surprise parties are great, but it’s easy to get so into the party that we forget what the party is all about. The cake and gifts are awesome, but the party exists to celebrate another year of life. As Jeanie and I pulled into our destination outside the NE gate of Yellowstone, we paused to say thanks to the Creator of it all. Yes, the creation was awesome, but was a piece of dust compared to the awesome God who created it all. He is worthy of our awe and wonder much more than what He designed and built. It’s easy to focus too much on the miracle and neglect the Miracle Worker. The Bear Tooth Highway was wonderful and we were excited to make the journey back down in a few days. But after good nights sleep, we were off to explore the famous Yellowstone Park, perhaps the most famous park in the world. We wondered what other surprises awaited us in the coming days. But this time we weren’t afraid… …we were ready to party! By Eric Joseph Staples © www.lifeaid101.com
Posted by Joseph Staples at 5:04 PM
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