As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.                                     My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God                                                                                                                                                   Psalm 42:1-2

As we entered the Great Smokey National Park, there they were at the side of the road, a whole herd of them, their heads craning to see, to get a really good look. It was quite an impressive herd, probably 100 or more, a herd of people – or is it a gaggle? Ok, it’s a crowd, and there was a big crowd all gathered to look at the elk – there were only two of them – Elk and Elk (you have to know the commercial to get this one). The crowd was desperate to get a good view, just the right angle for a great picture. Some were so captivated by the animals that they pulled out their lawn chairs and their baskets of food and made a picnic out of their elk encounter. It was quite a sight to see all eyes fixed on two animals eating their grass lunch.

Later on, as we were exiting the park into Gatlinburg, we saw another crowd by the side of the road. All their heads were turned upward, looking into the trees. You could tell they were enthralled by something up there in the treetops. I guessed that it was an eagle or some other majestic bird. Having to know, I pulled over, parked the car and joined the crowd starring up into the trees. What I saw, what we all saw, was a blob way up toward the top of the branches. When it moved you could just barely make out the form of a bear. It was a Black Bear, the animal that everyone comes to Great Smokey National Park to see. There it was, barely visible, being so far up and hidden by leaves, but captivating nevertheless.

So desperate were people to see a bear, some passing cars slowed to a crawl and some people hung dangerously out their windows to get a shot with their cell phone cameras. Park volunteers had to yell at drivers to keep on moving, and for us standing spectators to stay on a certain side of the road as not to get to close to the tree in which the bear resided. It was quite a spectacle to see all the long camera lenses and eyes pointed skyward, desperate for a good view of a bear that was completely oblivious to the people, it’s only interest in finding some good leaves to eat.

My prayer for all who call Jesus their Lord and Savior, it that each would have that same desperation in their hearts to know Jesus. The psalmist knew such desperation when he wrote “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” In this dry and weary land, filled with so much darkness, so much violence and hatred, may each of us grow a real desperation to be more and more in the presence of God. As you rise in the morning may you pant, or find a desperation in your heart to go and meet with God. As beautiful and amazing as seeing a black bear, so much more amazing is the One who created him and every awe-inspiring creature, yourself included. This Thanksgiving season, may you truly give thanks for our Heavenly Father who deeply, desperately desires you.

Happy Thanksgiving

Pastor Jeff