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Faith Column: Yellowstone and our spiritual journey

In the middle of June the family and I — well, it was mostly my decision but they agreed — decided to venture out on a Griswold style family road trip (minus grandma on top of the family wagon).

We ventured our way out through the Black Hills and onto the majestic Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone is a place that I had always wanted to spend some significant time in because of the seemingly endless cache of wildlife. As we ventured out, our expectations were sky high and certainly going to let us down, but we were shooting for the top. After all, look at any Yellowstone brochure and you will see bears, moose and large elk.

Shortly after entering the park’s south entrance it became apparent that we were going to spend a significant amount of time on what we deemed as the “Metal Box Trail Ride.” One vehicle after another, bumper to bumper, stopping and going with every squirrel, rabbit and bison soon became very frustrating.

After two days in the park the frustrations continued to grow. Where are all the moose? Where are these numerous bears? Packs of wolves and elk frolicking through the open meadows were nowhere to be found, at least along the road.

Then it dawned on me — we are simply going for the low-hanging fruit. We want the animals to come to us instead of us going to them.

In our spiritual lives, how often is this the case? We want spiritual transformation to take place, but we do not want to put in any of the work.

“God teach me your ways and help me to grow in my relationship with you.” When the Lord responds, “Read my word. Spend time with me. Seek my face,” we simply choose to stay on the goat trail of faith and just follow the masses down the path of least resistance.

Rather than putting forth the effort to see the incredible things of God in our lives through the partnership with the Spirit, we get stuck on the main roads looking for what is easy.

I know this has happened and continues to happen in my life. I get stuck in the main flow of life and wonder why I am not seeing the truly amazing things God has for me. I get frustrated and annoyed. God, I thought you had bigger things for me. I thought you were going to do immeasurably more than I could ever imagine.

The voice of the Holy Spirit calmly directs me off the beaten path of the masses and onto a trail that takes work. It takes effort. Paul continually talks about spiritual formation in metaphors that communicate struggle and maximum effort. A race. A battle.

If you want to see more majestic wild animals at Yellowstone you have to get on the trail and get off the Metal Box Trail Ride.

If you want to see spiritual growth and significant transformation in your life you have to put in the time and the effort off of the paved path of the masses. God has incredible things planned for those who seek Him, and not just seek Him on the pavement of faith but on the adventurous trail of discipleship.