I've got Yosemite on my mind this week, and so remembered a story from Yosemite when Bryan and I went backpacking years ago (BK - before kids). I found this encouraging. I hope you will too!
Read on . . .
It was nine o'clock and barely dark in Yosemite National Forest. A few birds chirped sleepy good-nights as the first stars began to peek from the majestic cloak of evening sky. I yawned and rolled over in my sleeping bag. My husband, Bryan, flung his arm over my bag.
Just as my eyelashes fluttered down on weary cheeks, I heard it. A slow clawing and a soft grunt. I held my breath and listened. The night air rent with the sound of ripping nylon.
"What was that?" I whispered.
"Here, you go see." Bryan pushed the flashlight toward me.
I unzipped the tent flap, stuck my head out the opening, and flashed the light over the right side of the camp. There, not twenty feet from our tent, was a huge black bear. My light shone in two huge luminous eyes above a muzzle covered with trail mix. It grunted and swept its head down for another mouthful.
My head was back in the tent before I could think twice. "It...it's the biggest bear I've ever seen," I stammered. “The paper, that paper they gave us at the ranger station, what did it say?" I rummaged through my backpack for the literature I’d stuffed there earlier.
"Yosemite bears are very timid," it read.
"Timid. Ha!" I scoffed. "That bear looks anything but timid."
Bryan nodded. We kept reading. "If you encounter a bear," the pamphlet continued, "scare it away immediately by yelling, banging pots together, and throwing rocks at it from a safe distance."
I looked at Bryan. He looked at me.
"May as well give it a try," I whispered.
We each took a deep breath and clamored from the tent. I banged pots and pans and yelled. Bryan blew his whistle.
The bear just looked at us and kept on eating. Finally, it gave us one annoyed look, grabbed the food bag in its mouth, and lumbered away into the forest.
Bryan and I sat down on a boulder and looked at each other. “There goes all our food,” he muttered.
Hours later, dawn peeked into the morning sky, and the enormity of the situation struck us. Last night's fright becoming but a minor incident in the face of hiking for two days without any food.
"What now?” I asked.
"Don't know," Bryan sighed.
He shrugged his shoulders, and I shrugged mine.
"We may as well pack up, though," he continued. "Nothing else to do."
We had come to a situation where we had no answers. We didn't even have any alternatives. The problem was out of our hands.
Just as we were putting the last items into our packs, a woman sauntered out of the woods near our camp.
"Say, we heard your whistle last night. Have a bear?" she asked.
"Did it get your food?" she continued.
We nodded again.
"We have some extra food if you need it."
"Really?" we choked, hardly able to believe our ears.
"Yeah, some trail mix and dried fruit, and other stuff." She smiled. "Would you like it?"
We nodded our heads yet again, this time much more eagerly.
"I'll be back in a few minutes," she stated pleasantly.
True to her word, she was back almost immediately with the promised food, more than enough to sustain us for our journey, and better food than we had originally brought.
I stared at the food in my hand as the woman made her way back through the trees. Then, I chuckled. Just when we were at our wit's end, God found a way to give us what we needed. Wasn’t that just like Him? And, as usual, His provision was better and more abundant than what we had for ourselves.
Now, whenever I am faced with a problem that seems insurmountable, I remember the biggest bear I have ever seen. That bear has become a symbol to me of how God can take impossibility and turn it into blessing. My wit's end is only God's beginning, the forerunner of His grace.