By Jenna Ebener
It was 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Normally I would be sleeping in, but my dad convinced me to join him, my uncles and my brother on this early morning excursion. As we entered Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, we saw cars lined up on either side of the road. As everyone excitedly waited, the first elk began to bugle.
As I shared in the experience of watching elk and moose in their natural environment, I was struck by two things: the beauty of nature and the enthusiasm of the crowd. There was something especially beautiful about seeing the elk in the light of a rosy, recently risen sun surrounded by the vibrant yellows and oranges of the aspen trees.
This scene was made even more beautiful by the crowd’s visible enthusiasm. Everyone present was there to enjoy God’s creation. They changed their routines by waking up early on a crisp Sunday morning hoping for the chance to catch a glimpse of these awe-inspiring animals of God.
I started to compare the humans to elk and the onlookers to God. Just like the elk, we go about our daily routines without necessarily thinking about how the things we do impact others. We may eat the same thing for breakfast every day and take the same route to work. No matter how dull or busy our lives may seem to us, God is watching each of us as avidly as we were watching that wildlife.
While I noticed at one point that we started saying to ourselves, “We saw that moose; let’s see what is in the next meadow,” God will never take that perspective. He is as excited to hear about what we ate for breakfast as he is to hear that we loved our neighbor. Of course, he loves the times we follow his path, but most importantly, he simply wants to hear from us. Every time we confide in him, especially when we are experiencing life’s obstacles, I have no doubt that he is more excited than we were when we noticed another elk.
That morning as we watched the elk and moose, we noticed two moose trying to cross the road. They were walking parallel to the road, trying to get across so they could go into the mountains for the day. Unfortunately, people in cars kept following them in their excitement to watch the moose, which prevented the moose from crossing the road. Finally, one of the moose started running and made it across. The younger one needed some prompting from its mother and eventually followed suit.
Just like the moose, we will hit bumps in the road and “cars” will be in our path. However, some of those cars may have been put there by God to encourage us to get out of our routine and find some hidden reserve of strength to accomplish our goal. Sometimes that reserve will be enough to get us across the road, but other times those cars will continue to follow us.
Unlike those cars though, God knows when to push us and when we are at our limits. Just when we think we cannot possibly make it across that road, he will open a path for us because he is interested in our lives and wants us to succeed. “The Lord appeared to him from afar: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with loving devotion’” (Jeremiah 31:3).
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)