A Journey to Yosemite

June 20, 2014 | Mason Gravley

In an effort to merge two resounding loves in my life, the Word of God and the Works of God, I have decided to embark on an 8,000 mile bicycle pilgrimage through nearly 30 national parks while simultaneously raising $30,000 for Wycliffe Bible Translators.  As I approach the finish line of both of these goals, I reflect on what an awe-inspiring adventure it has become. 

This 5 month journey has carried me to the heights of nature's extraordinary song of praise and has also dragged me to emotional and physical depths far too close to death for comfort. From frightful encounters with bears, passing out on the side of the road, and miraculously escaping Death Valley's tire-melting ocean of heat, I've been able to learn about and converse with our creator on a level far greater than any era of my life thus far.  Through this experience I can assure you John Muir was right in saying: "God has to nearly kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons."

Through this journey I truly believe that the birth of our nations national parks was the impression of God's hand upon individuals to set these specific acres of land aside for the enjoyment and inspiration of all people and all generations to come.  I say this because no cathedral has ever or can ever compare to the majesty found in such places as the giant redwoods or the Grand Canyon.  I've come to call these parks "orchestras of the senses" with God himself being the sole Conductor over eons of time.

I'll be arriving at the conference by bicycle and leaving the conference towards Yosemite National Park, the place I first learned about ACMNP and the place where I'll be serving this summer.  Last year when I embarked on the journey Yosemite was one of the first parks on the list.  I wasn't prepared for my encounter with the majesty of it all.  I entered the valley through the famous tunnel and upon exiting I was immediately taken aback by what I could not fathom.  The vertical rock faces, the thousand-foot waterfalls, It seemed to be 10 national parks within itself.  I was awe-struck!  I knew then that I had to return, someway, any way.  I ended up staying for a week, sitting among the trees and watching the Merced river roll by, exploring every facet of the valley I could.  On Sunday I found out about an ACMNP service in the area I had been camping in.  After attending, I asked those who were conducting the service why they were doing this and through whom were they doing it.  As soon as I heard about the ministry to serves solely to the national parks I decided I needed to know more, a lot more. 

That's what has led to this summer.  I have about 9 more national parks remaining through Colorado and Utah.  I'll be going through those after the conference on my way to Yosemite.  A month's time should be adequate for the last 1,700 miles of the journey, and hopefully the last bit of fund-raising for Wycliffe.  I've seen many of these beautiful places in passing and know how God's hand has moved me through them.  I'm now thrilled to see how His hands are placing me within one of them to learn and grow with others in a much different and greater way.

"I saw God a lot in the relationships I made with international workers. I made really good friends with girls from Jamaica and Taiwan, and I felt God work in those friendships in a way that I never thought could happen in such a short amount of time."
– Sara, Glacier 2011

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