Tag Archives: Yellowstone

Stay On The Path!

hot springI recently wrote an article about tourists at a National Park who “rescued” a Bison calf, causing its death because the herd rejected it. Since that time, several other stories are making headlines with tourists ignoring rules at National Parks. They want selfies with elk, they dangle over the sides of rock sliding areas, and they get far too close to the Bears. Sadly, many of these stories end very badly.

Colin Scott, a recent college graduate from Portland, Oregon, is no exception. He refused to obey the signs that clearly say to stay on the boardwalk at Yellowstone. But armed with flip-flops and the pride of youth, he ignored those signs and walked 225 yards off the path.

Unfortunately, it was a deadly mistake. Not only are the springs acidic, but they are also scalding hot – over 200 degrees. In fact, the spring was so acidic and so hot that, when the ground gave way and he fell in, his body dissolved and there was nothing left to recover.

The story is a sad one, and the family is in our prayers. But Park Services representative, Morgan Warthin, uses tragedies such as this to try to save lives. She warns that the ground is extremely fragile and there are thermal pools right below the surface. She warns that the hot springs “look beautiful and stunning…inviting, yet the boardwalks are there for a reason…to keep visitors safe.”

Spiritually speaking, I find real similarities. People often stray from God’s path to get a closer look at sin, refusing to heed warning signs.

The Bible consistently reminds us to stay on the path. It is a narrow path that leads to salvation (Matthew 7:14). God’s Word is a light on the path to show the way (Psalm 119:105). We are shown the boundaries that He has given, and we are told not to move the stones (Proverbs 22:28).

So many people today try to make the rules up as they go. They leave the tried and true path to get a closer look at sin. If they would stay on God’s path, unnecessary spiritual death would cease. Safety is only found on the Lord’s path!

Good Intentions, A Bison Calf, and Why Rules Matter

bisonFlyers, road signs, and verbal warnings tell visitors to keep away from wildlife at Yellowstone National Park. But last week, upon seeing a Bison calf alone in the cold, two visitors took action. They trusted their “good intentions” and “rescued” the calf by taking him to the ranger station in the back of their SUV. The result? The herd rejected the calf, it became habituated to humans, and rangers had to euthanize it.

Federal laws, clearly posted at National Parks, prohibit “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.” Yellowstone regulations require that visitors remain at least 25 yards from bison. Yet rangers continue to tell of “inappropriate, dangerous and illegal“ behaviors.

So why do people keep ignoring signs? Do they know better? Perhaps they believe the signs don’t apply to them? Do good intentions supersede the rules?

There is probably a more clinical and professional term for the utter hubris of human rationale, but I am just going to go with “I-thinkism.” You see, far too many people have decided that their logic, wisdom, and reasoning are better than the rules that have been established for their safety and well-being. So…the rules say one thing, “but I think…” becomes the motto of many unhappy endings.

In the Bible, we are often reminded of the foolishness of choosing “I-thinkism” over God’s rules. In 1 Samuel 4, the people lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle because they chose their path over God’s. The Philistines then took the Ark home and learned the power of taking something they shouldn’t. God destroyed their idol, Dagon, and gave the Philistines boils and tumors for not keeping their distance and respecting His ways.

Years later, in 2 Samuel 6, David calls for the ark to be brought to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, during the trip, “the oxen nearly upset” the cart (6:6). With good intentions, a man named Uzzah reached up and grabbed the ark to steady it, a clear violation of God’s law. He was struck down instantly for his “irreverence.” Finally, when the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, David had good intentions to build a house for the Ark. But God rebuked him, saying He had never asked for such a thing and David wouldn’t be the man to build the Temple.

Two Biblical principles reside in these examples. 1) When God gives a command, follow it, and 2) When God is silent on a topic, His silence doesn’t authorize us to do whatever we please.

Turns out that this is good advice for National Parks as well. Obey the rules, don’t let “I-thinkism” prevail, and leave the Bison alone.