Remember when I said I had lots more to say about The Great Adventure? Well, I decided that during these Days of Awe, maybe I should go back and share some of that...so here you go!
We did a double-take into the sunset as we sped by, then slowed down and pulled off on the side of the road and squinted back at the sight. Even at this distance of probably a quarter mile, and in this dim light, there was no doubt about it. Brie and Hannah got a couple of pictures, and it was definitely a scene to capture: the Grand Tetons, back-lit by the golden glow of a setting sun, and a flat green plain providing dinner for a herd of wild buffalo. But we just had to get closer. So we got back in the car and drove back to where we first spotted them.
The gravel crunched under Hannah and Brie's feet and my wheels as we unloaded from the car again. Unlike most roadside pull-offs, this one had a smooth, level transition from the gravel to the prairie grass... another reason to love Wyoming. Brie and Hannah both went to work, taking pictures like crazy while I just sat and gawked. My nerves, from the tip of my nose to the tip of my toes, were tingling with excitement. I'd never seen anything like this, and certainly not this close up... and I just had to get closer.
I moved forward - two wheels, four, then six wheels onto the prairie grass. We all did, and inch by inch, the details got clearer - their fur, their snouts, their eyes... We got so close we could hear their tails swishing flies and their teeth chomping grass. The thought crossed my mind that they were wild and though they looked passive at the moment, they could quickly shift from lazy grazers to crazed chargers... which terrified and thrilled me. Death by buffalo stampede would trump a hospital bed any day.
And then one made eye contact with Hannah. Brie noticed and stopped clicking her camera, but Hannah kept going, like she was on safari in the Wild West. "Hannah!" Brie said in a low, steady, but urgent voice. The buffalo took a step forward, and Brie started to backpedal toward the gravel. "Hannah, we should go..." My heart rate picked up as he took two more steps toward his photographer. "...like, go now... like NOW!" All three of us ran and dove in the van. The buffalo was still just walking but his gaze and direction were toward us, and the crawling pace of the ramp closing into the van kept us nervous until the door finally closed and we drove away.
Of course, we were perfectly safe, and we laughed a lot as our pulses slowed back down to a normal speed. But just getting that close to something so big and wild and dangerous made me feel more alive. It reminded me that that's how life with Jesus can be, and even should be. After all, "it's not as if he were a tame lion." His power and size and wrath and holiness should terrify us, while also drawing us ever closer through his profound love, mercy, and grace. It compels us to cling to him even though one look at his face could kill us.
In C.S. Lewis' book, The Horse and His Boy, one of my favorite lines is spoken by Hwin the Horse to Aslan when she comes face to face with his awesome beauty and power: "You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else." In essence, I'd rather die for You than live without You. Oh God, make my desire for you and submission to you be that consuming, that deep, that wild.