“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV
For 32 years, my husband Bill and I had the incredible privilege of living and working inside Yellowstone National Park. My husband was the Resident Minister with a program called A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. We served churches both inside the park and in Gardiner, MT. In addition, Bill oversaw a program which brought around 40 college and seminary students to Yellowstone each summer. While working regular jobs in the park, they also held Bible Studies and services of worship for visitors and employees. Our home was a revolving door for many of those students each summer as they shared their enthusiasm as well as their discouragements with us.
Bill and I were blessed to be able to raise four sons in Yellowstone National Park — what an incredible place it was to grow up. We have so many memories of family camping trips, winter recreation, and hunting expeditions in the national forests surrounding Yellowstone National Park.
I also served as Youth Group leader for Gardiner Community Church for over twenty years. The highlight of those years was taking our Youth Group on mission trips, most frequently to Mexico, but also across the oceans to Africa, India, and Thailand. We were blessed with many committed Christians in our little junior high and high school! It was exciting to see how the Lord was working in the lives of our teens and our church body.
In addition, I’m passionate about cross-country skiing and hiking. Fortunately for me, my job at Yellowstone Park headquarters allowed me to take a quick ski or run about Mammoth Terrace Drive during my lunch hour. One of my favorite features on that loop is Orange Spring Mound, a very large hot spring which has a continuous outflow of water cascading over the limestone formation. For as many years as I’ve passed by the mound, it has always had a steady flow of hot water shooting out of a vent near the top and sliding gently over the side of the mound as if it were wearing a shiny cape. The different colors of algae that grew in the hot waterfall glistened like jewels in the sunlight. It was indeed a sight to behold.
I share all of this as a backdrop for the following story:
One dreary spring day after church, I went for a walk around Terrace Drive just to get away from everyone. I was missing my children, who had long since grown up and moved away. I was missing the many teens from Youth Groups past, who had also moved on with their lives. Some were still walking with the Lord, but some were not. I also was dreading my husband’s upcoming retirement, which would mean moving away from the church family and the place I loved. I felt as if I were being put out to pasture. My ministry seemed to be drying up.
As I was actively involved in this mental pity party, I rounded the bend in the road and there was Orange Spring Mound. But wait–it was not spouting water! I couldn’t believe my eyes, but the shiny cape of water that usually enveloped Orange Spring Mound had dried up.
At that point, I actually spoke out loud to the Lord, using my most put-out voice, “Well, if that isn’t appropriate! I’m feeling dried up, useless, having no mission or purpose in life. And now I come upon Orange Spring Mound to find that it had dried up too. Orange Spring Mound–the hot spring that hasn’t quit spouting water for years and years–is dry now. Just like me!!
As I followed a bend in the road which leads to the backside of Orange Spring Mound, I suddenly felt the Lord speak to me. Notice I said “felt” because I did not hear a word. Yet I knew as clearly as anything I’ve ever known that this message was from the Lord. He told me to look at the back side of the mound, and there, as big as life, was a new stream of water pouring out from the top of the mound. Then came my message from Him, “Debby, why would you ever think that I would want you put out to pasture? Don’t you see that as long as you are willing to serve, I will pour living water through you to others that I’ve brought into your life. The only way you will dry up is if you remove yourself from the Living Water. ” The Lord continued to impress upon me that simply because one area of service has dried up does NOT mean that no other opportunities will arise. Just like Orange Spring Mound, the water will keep on flowing, albeit in different areas.
My spirit was instantly restored! I went from depression to exuberance! Small wonder that I have ever since called Orange Spring Mound my burning bush!
Orange Spring Mound
I hope you have been blessed by these encounters. I would love to hear your encounter. You can email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are loving this series make sure to check out last years lenten series, “40 Encounters With Jesus.” Available in both Paperback and Ebook formats. ~Jen
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