One of the best things about living in California is the ability to drive just a few hours in any direction (except into the ocean, of course!) and experience a completely different ecological system.
This past week we experienced Yosemite.
Fresh air, sparkling rivers, breathtaking waterfalls, sunshine.....a few near catastrophes.
The first near catastrophe was that The Beast (aka our Suburban) sprung a massive coolant leak. Turns out, The Mateo had forgotten to replace the radiator cap. This could have been bad except....that even after 6 hours of driving, the radiator cap was still sitting on top of the engine right where he'd left it!
"The Lord covered me on that one," The Mateo said.
The second near catastrophe happened when three over-eager children disregarded their parents' warning to Stay On The Path and went tearing through the meadow toward the river. We lost sight of them for a moment in the tall grass at the river's edge until suddenly....ear-splitting screams shattered the morning air. And then James, yelling for Daddy.
"Daddy, hurry! Jude is drowning!"
The Mateo followed the screams. Jude had slipped over the edge of the river's enbankment and was submerged in the river up to his head. He was clinging desperately to some grass, his only lifeline.
The Mateo fished him out. Jude was muddy, wet and had a few scratches on his face. Otherwise, he was fine.
There followed a very serious discussion about the consequences of disobedience (ie. straying off the path). Jewel and James received their consequence and Jude, having already experienced his, was toweled off and given some Gatorade.
The rest of the day was spent floating down the river on inner-tubes, walking up to Bridalveil Falls, and watching a brave climber on El Capitan. In the following days we rafted down the Merced River twice (the highlight of the trip), took the brief hike up to Lower Yosemite Falls, played in the woods, ate brunch at The Ahwanee Hotel, explored The Mariposa Grove of Big Trees and swam in the river.
Suddenly, he remembered leaving them on the car bumper 45 minutes earlier up near our hotel. They had fallen off the bumper somewhere on the drive down into Yosemite Valley. One wallet held $100 in cash, the other wallet held his driver's license and two credit cards!
He called the card companies and canceled the cards while I paid for the rafting trip with my own card. We figured the wallets were a loss.
The next day as we drove back down into Yosemite Valley, I was scanning the side of the road near the General Store where we'd stopped when the wallets were lost. About one mile up the road from the store, I spotted something lying on the ground next to the road.
The Mateo pulled over.
It was the wallet with his driver's license and two credit cards!
We laughed and laughed and stared at each other in wonder. Then James said,
"Hey, Dad, I didn't get a chance to tell you this yesterday, but I prayed for a miracle."
"I would say the Lord answered your prayer, son," The Mateo said.
We never did find the cash wallet. But just finding his driver's license was miracle enough for us. Experiencing the Providence of God and being able to share that with our children was as beautiful as Yosemite itself.
And lastly, here is the biggest, oldest living thing on planet Earth:
The Grizzly Giant. A huge sequoia tree that is 1,700 years old! It stands, leaning slightly to left, in the midst of the Mariposa Grove.
It's hard to imagine 1,700 years passing as this tree grew silently, powerfully, taking 800 years just to reach maturity.
There's something mysterious and spiritual about these trees, if only to serve as a reminder at how short, how brief, how like a "passing vapor" our human lives are.
This magnificient tree reminded me of our wonderful Creator, maker of Heaven and Earth. It reminded me not to waste one moment, to live with gratitude in my heart to the Lord, in everything to give thanks, and to make my life a living sacrifice of worship to Him.
He is good and His love endures forever!