LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK – USA > Grand Tetons North Fork River 1 (Grand Teton National Park)
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This panorama photograph of Grand Teton (13,775′, 4198m) and Mt. Owen was taken from the Cascade Canyon North Fork Camping Zone one beautiful summer morning. Indian Paintbrush, columbines of various colors and many other wildflowers adorned the river’s edge as it ran through the North Fork. Grand Teton’s famed Cathedral Group towers above.
Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern USA just 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park. The jagged peaks of the Teton Range rise dramatically out of the Great Plains to an altitude of 13,800′ (4200m). Grand Teton’s pristinely preserved wilderness features valleys covered with Columbine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers, raging mountain rivers and rugged, snow-covered peaks. The park is home to many different kinds of animals including grizzly bears, elk, moose and marmots. Due to its stunning beauty, Grand Teton National Park is one of America’s most popular national parks.
“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do…As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:14, 17-18, 26)
God had blessed me with some absolutely beautiful photos of the Grand Tetons in the North Fork that morning. I was so incredibly thankful for these shots, even moreso after I had met some other photographers that morning who had walked away with nothing. But there was no doubt about it, I was also really stressed. I was not living by faith or trusting in God and his promises that morning.
This stress over something in my personal life had been troubling me for a few days, and I hadn’t been able to eat very much because of it. The day before, this resulted in me tiring out a lot sooner than I had hoped, and because of this I had not made it as high up into the North Fork of Grand Teton National Park as I had wanted to.
I had an even more physically demanding day at hand today, with a 12 km (7.5 mile) steeper climb up into the top of the South Fork with a pack that weighed half of what I did (28 kg, 62 lbs). If I wasn’t able to overcome this stress and eat something, I knew I most likely would not make it and would have to end my trip altogether.
Quitting now would be tragedy to me because I had come half way across the world to do this walk, I had trained very hard for months in order to be physically capable to do this and I had already put in so much effort to get this far. And realistically…I may never get another chance to do it again.
However, deep down underneath the turbulent waters assaulting my mind, there was a strong faith in God’s Word deep within my heart as well as a militancy within me to overcome this personal battle. I knew in my heart that God had called me to this photography trip in order to capture shots that testified of him. His providential hand had already been seen in me beating the odds to secure permits for this trip, which often fill within seconds after they are made available online. Not only that, but God had already provided me with a few “National Geographic moments” for my photography on this trip thus far. Therefore I knew that all of God’s power and grace was with me in sufficient measure to complete the work he had called me to.
I knew his promises:
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
“‘My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35, 37)
I thought back to a similar experience I had had a few years prior, at Cradle Mountain, in Tasmania, Australia. I had also been very stressed on that trip due to dealing with multiple traumas (which was also part of what I was dealing with now), but the Lord enabled me to overcome, and he blessed me with a number of great shots that testified of his glory as Creator. (See: Autumn Fagus Trail (Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park)).
So there I stood at a crossroads and a crisis of faith.
Here was my opportunity to overcome. Here was my moment to live by my faith. This was the place where I had to choose either victory or defeat, to either trust in God or to fail in my own strength. I knew all the power and grace and promises of God were with me to empower me to overcome.
I choose VICTORY!!! I choose FAITH!!! By the grace of God, he will help me overcome!!!
Armed with a little booklet I had made of important Bible Scriptures, I began to quote the Word of God out loud, an aspect of spiritual warfare which Christ modelled for us (Matthew 4:1-11, Ephesians 6:17). As I began to quote the Scriptures, a particular militant beat and tune started coming to me, and I began to sing in the spirit and with my mind to it (1 Corinthians 14:15). (Only later did I realize that the tune was a spontaneous spiritual warfare song I had learned long ago but had forgotten.)
In my time of weakness, I also asked the Lord to send some Christian brothers and sisters to me to help strengthen me in my faith and to pray for me.
Very soon after I prayed, four people met me on the trail. As we briefly passed casual conversation it turned out that they were Christians from my hometown in the USA! They encouraged me in the Lord and said that they would pray for me and my trip.
I was so incredibly encouraged to see such an immediate answer to my prayer!
Furthermore, it again reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me at Cradle Mountain, when I was dealing with trauma. During that trip I had also prayed that God would provide a Christian to encourage me. As soon as I got to the campsite the first people I met were a couple of Christians who encouraged me in my faith. Praise the Lord!
Bolstered in my spirit and in my faith I continued up into the South Fork of the Grand Tetons.
The more I quoted the Word of God, worshiped God and sang in the spirit, the more it delivered me from my stress, and I was able to eat something again and keep up my physical energy reserves. I continued this long after it completely drove away all my stress and I reached my goal and found myself at the top of South Fork.
All praise and honor and glory be to God for his victory, his faithfulness and his power in my life!!!!
This photo is a picture of the victory God gave me that day on top of the South Fork of Grand Teton National Park!
Yet, God’s real purpose for me on this trip, in addition to a much greater revelation that God wanted to give me up there was still yet to come. This was only the beginning…
(Please read the other “Photographer’s Reflections” on the South Fork Grand Tetons photographs for the rest of the amazing story.)
“We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
“…it is by faith you stand firm.” (2 Corinthians 1:24)