“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:27-31)
I was really eager to get some great photos of Tasmania’s mountains after they had been blanketed with snow. I decided to venture up to Mt. Field National Park, about an hour from where I live. I am quite familiar with Mt. Field’s trails and quite experienced in snow and cold weather, being a skier from Minnesota in the USA. However, the task of capturing these shots soon proved to be next to impossible.
Though a month had gone by since the last major dump of snow, there was still a lot of snow left; in fact, way too much snow…way more than I had anticipated.
It was very challenging struggling through knee and waist deep snow, especially as I was weighed down by my heavy pack full of camera gear. I was soon very wet, not from snow but from sweat. I hadn’t intended on crawling on all fours for an hour to avoid sinking through. The trail disappeared almost immediately, and so I had to bush bash my way. Thankfully there were clear skies, so I knew where I was.
But after an hour and a half of this I thought, this is insane for me to continue. I had hardly gotten anywhere, and I was still quite a distance away from my intended destination because it was taking me twice as long to get there.
I sat down and thought, “But I’ve already invested so much to get this far. I’ve spent a long, dark night in a cold campsite, I’ve arisen before dawn to catch the morning light, and I’ve crawled through the snow the last hour and a half just to get this far.”
Finally I decided I had come too far to just give up now, so I pressed on. Thankfully, soon after I made that decision I was able to get out of the deep snow onto easier terrain.
When I finally made it about half way to my destination, I tried to shoot Florentine Peak, but I struggled to get a sharp shot in the icy 70 kph (45 mph) mountain winds. I tried a few other locations, but I still had the same problem. I was starting to get very frustrated and cold. My fingers were also in a lot of pain from exposure as I fiddled with my tripod and camera settings. I was quite upset that my fruitless endeavor had wasted so much valuable time, a commodity more precious than gold to a mother of a three year old.
Finally about lunch time I crawled up to the top of K Col on the Rodway Range, thankful to God that the wind had finally died down and the sun was starting to warm me up.
As I was peering through the viewfinder to compose this shot, all of a sudden a Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle burst into my frame. Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagles are an Endangered Species, with less than 200 pairs in the wild, and he (or she) was only about 10m (33 feet) away. He came to check out who this intruder was on his mountaintop.
He took me by surprise because he came up from underneath me, not from above. What you probably can’t tell from this photo is that there is a steep cliff where the scrub ends. This eagle had caught the thermals up the cliff and flew up into my frame, soaring just metres above the scrub. Then he flew directly toward me and boldly hovered just above me for a little while and then slowly flew off.
As you have probably already noticed from the photo, there’s no eagle in it. This is because my camera was set on the timer mode when I tried to snap a shot. After that useless shot, I quick flicked it into Auto mode…which, of course, was stuck on the 10 second timer…Needless to say, by the time I finally adjusted the camera to the right settings, the eagle was out of good shooting range. But it was still amazing to see this magnificent bird so up close!
That mountaintop experience made my struggles to get there ALL worth it. I thanked and praised the Lord for blessing me with such a close encounter with this majestic, endangered bird. It called to my mind the Lord’s exhortation to his people in Isaiah 40:27-31.
The experience reminds me not to give up during the hard slogs in my spiritual life. Sometimes the going gets so difficult that we Christians wonder whether or not we are in God’s will, and that is a valid question, because sometimes he sends difficult things our way to prevent us from going in a particular direction (Acts 16:7, Numbers 22). However, when we know we are in God’s will, we can be encouraged to press on, despite how difficult our circumstances may be (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). As we climb out of the valley, we will be rewarded with a mountaintop experience (See Exodus 5:1-6:12; 12:1-15:27).
“I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my [God’s] word and have not denied my name…Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:8,10-13)