I’ve got lots of pictures to post and stories to tell about the very first Yosemite Summit, but for those of you who like to read the last chapter of books first – I’ll start by telling you about a very cool thing that happened at the very end of the trip.
I’d been to Yosemite many times as a boy and then not for a long time until my sabbatical in 2005. I’ve gotten pictures of many animals, but other than being “attacked” by a bear at Yosemite as a boy (you’ll have to ask me in person for the story – posting it takes away the fun to telling it!) I’ve not seen a bear at Yosemite. So on our first day in the park on our “solitude hike” among much more spiritual things, I selfishly prayed that God might let me see and photograph a bear on this trip. It was a childish prayer to my Abba Father, one I knew He may not answer, but I’ve learned He loves me enough that I need to at least ask. If my asking is wrong, He’ll show me by not answering.
I kept my eyes alert for a bear the entire trip half-expecting God might answer that prayer request at any moment. Even on our shuttle ride up to Glacier Point for the all day hike down to the valley, I kept my camera pointed out the window, on the rapid fire setting, and finger on the shutter in case I could get glimpse of a bear en route and be able to point to a picture and say, “That brown blur is a bear, really!”
Well, while God answered many prayer requests, and even provided in many ways I neglected to pray about, it seemed my “bear request” was not going to be answered, at least not this year. In fact, on our last time in the valley, we all took a final hour to be alone with God, and as I thanked Him for so many wonderful ways He worked and answered and provided on this trip, I humorously said, “even though you didn’t give me my bear.” I knew it was a silly thing to pray for, but I had really wanted to see a bear. Oh, well.
I’m not sure whether it was God’s grace, or mercy, or simply His sense of humor – but on the way out of Yosemite we saw some people pointing at something, and one of the guys jokingly said, “It’s a bear!” And it was! Guys started jumping out of the van while it was still moving, but since I was driving, I had to find a place to pull over. When I was parked, I took the risk of changing to my telephoto lens, I just had a feeling God was answering my prayer! Then as I jumped out of the van, I realized I was way behind the crowd running toward the bear with their cameras, and literally sensed God telling me to run in the other direction! I ran deep into the woods and then circled around hoping that the bear might run toward me as it fled the others trying to get his picture. I knew there was a chance that with this strategy I might never even get to SEE the bear, let alone photograph it, but it all happened so fast, I was operating on instinct. (Or God’s leading?) Sure enough, as I hid behind a fallen log with my camera ready, I saw the bear running toward me! As I raised my camera it jumped up in a tree and I got these pictures before he jumped and ran off in the other direction:
Here he is, looking right at me!
Then I zoomed in a bit, as he looked around.
Last shot before he jumped down and ran the other way.
Funny, how just as I had accepted God wouldn’t answer my silly prayer request, He chose to answer it. Oh, me of little faith! My Father had simply waited to give it to me as a final goodbye gift. He knew how hard it was for me to drive out of Yosemite – so he allowed the final pictures I took entire week to be of a bear. How cool is that? I couldn’t help but be reminded of Matthew chapter 7, forgive me for changing just a few words:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a bear, will give him a squirrel? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Thank you, God, for loving me enough to send me a bear! You are too awesome. Next year I want to photograph a Sasquatch! (Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask!)