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Exploring Yellowstone and Walking By Faith

Updated: Mar 11

God's majesty is on full display in the wonder of His creation. For those seeking to connect with the Creator while exploring His handiwork, Yellowstone National Park offers a terrain ripe for spiritual growth. Fellow Christian traveler, Natalie Ogbourne, recounts lessons learned about walking by faith during her 35+ years of adventures in America's first national park. Let her stories of geysers, wildlife encounters, and family experiences in the wilderness inspire you in your own faith journey.

A Snowball Standoff with a Bison

Natalie didn't always enjoy hiking and outdoor adventures, but she has grown to love and respect the wilderness of Yellowstone. Especially, with it's many closer encounters with the wild animals.

Natalie remembers that as a child, her grandfather had taught her that male cows (bulls) can be very dangerous creatures. Thus, when she encountered bison and bears in Yellowstone - she was more afraid of the Bison.

One memorable and scary moment happened during a winter visit when Natalie and her husband encountered a large group of bison traveling down the road:

"I saw the eyes of these bison as they're trotting down the road. And I was pretty petrified. And our turn came along and my husband was just getting ready to accelerate to move past the bison. And one of the larger bison in the group pivoted, he kind of walked our direction and pivoted right in front of us. We were just face to face with him across the snowmobile windshield."

Natalie felt afraid and alone in that moment, even though her husband was right there with her. But the reality was that if the bison attacked - there was nothing the other snowmobilers could do. Then she saw another snowmobiler turn and wave, which reminded her that God was with them even in that tense situation. The bison eventually moved on without incident, but it reinforced Natalie's trust in God's presence.

Seeing Life as a Landscape for Faith

As Natalie continued returning to hike in Yellowstone year after year, she began noticing the metaphorical connections between the trails and walking by faith.

Just as carefully navigating uneven terrain requires focused attention, journeying through life's ups and downs means we can't go on "autopilot." We must be aware of potential pitfalls, be ready to help others struggling, and respond in faith rather than fear.

Natalie explains:

"When I remember that I’m walking through a full landscape, I’m not just stuck in a moment. It helps me look at the events of my life in a more hopeful, helpful, gospel centered, redemptive way."

This perspective provides reassurance that tough times are not the end - there are more "green pastures" ahead, even if the current path feels rocky. It's also a reminder to be sensitive to others' difficulties on their own life journeys.

A Bear Encounter and Answered Prayer

Natalie's faith was tested during a hike when her family unexpectedly encountered a bear at close range. Scrambling to retreat, the bear began following behind, getting closer and closer.

In that intense moment, Natalie cried out to God for help. She remembers:

"I actually verbally cried out and I said, 'Oh God, please help us.' And almost immediately a human form came into my field of vision, walking our direction on the path and it was a ranger."

The ranger was able to intercede and keep space between them and the bear. Natalie firmly believes God answered her prayer by sending help right when they desperately needed it. Though terrifying in the moment, the experience taught powerful lessons about trusting God's presence and protection.

yellowstone national park

Planting Seeds in Kids' Lives

Natalie has taken her kids to Yellowstone from a young age. She talked about how even family vacations plant seeds and impact kids' lives. Her daughter remembered and applied a Bible verse about God always being present when she was nervous climbing rocks. Natalie encouraged parents:

"When we take just a family vacation, whether it's far from home or close to home, that impacts their lives forever."

Final Thoughts on God and Yellowstone

Natalie's decades of travels in Yellowstone reveal how God can use His creation to grow our trust and reliance on Him. Though the trails may wind up rocky cliffs and close to wild predators, He remains ever-present to guide us through life's landscape. Whether trekking across a national park or navigating everyday obstacles, leaning into God's promises allows us to walk by faith with hope and courage. As you embark on your next adventure, remember that the Creator of Yellowstone's majestic vistas and geothermal wonders walks with you. Let His creation point you to His faithful presence along the path.

Learn more about other destinations in our blog - or find other travelers to connect with by joining the network today! We're building a platform to help Christians easily meet up, find worship, and build like-minded community wherever your travels take you - whether it's backpacking through Europe, road tripping across America, or cruising the Bahamas. And we need your help to make this vision a reality!

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