Vaughn and I just got home from a vacation in the Smoky Mountains. It’s our place to go to get away from the real world and spend some time along – just the two of us.

We’ve been visiting the Smokies for almost 20 years and the beauty of the region is still just as awe inspiring as it was the first time I laid eyes on it. Along with the amazing scenery, I just love the animals we see. We usually see deer, raccoon, squirrels, and a bunch of different types of birds. All of these are great, but these are animals I see in my back yard. I love it when I see the elusive Smoky Mountain black bear.

Let me qualify that last statement – the black bear is apparently elusive only to Vaughn and I. Seems every one we know has had a Smoky Mountain bear story – and FINALLY, last year, we had the chance to see several bears. We drove up on a big bear just grazing on a limb in the middle of the road – he continued to eat as I snapped pictures. Later we watched two young bears tussling in a valley below us. We managed to see bears on the side of the road at two different locations. It was a bear-filled week.

The chalet we stayed in as had several bear sightings and I was so excited & hopeful that I’d get to see the Momma Bear and her cubs. I waited and watched. We drove through the park and I kept my eyes opened for a side of the road bear sightings. I really wanted to see a bear. I had the camera ready. Truth be told, I had not one but three cameras and a video camera ready. I wanted a bear picture.

After days of looking and still no bear, I was sad. Sure I had some great sunrise pictures, great blue mountain pictures, but I wanted that bear picture. The biggest animal in the Smoky Mountains. The king of the all the animals of the Smokies. I wanted a black bear picture.

On our last full day, we headed into Gatlinburg for lunch. I brought along just one camera. I decided that instead of just looking for the black bear, I would take pictures of the smaller things I saw.

It was an amazing stroll. I’d seen butterflies all week, but I didn’t notice them because I was too busy looking for a bear. I am awestruck at the beauty of this creature.

The bumblebees were everywhere, but I hadn’t seen them. These fascinating creatures are amazing.

I almost missed so much looking for the black bear.

My focus was on the big sighting of the black bear and I almost missed the amazing beauty all around me.

How many times do we miss what God is doing because we’re looking so hard for the BIG HUGE GOD thing that we miss the incredible and amazing God thing? God does the HUGE and the BIG, but He is also right in the middle of the small and the incredible.

We often equate big and showy with success and accomplishment– the bigger the numbers, the bigger the success. I want to serve God in a HUGE way! I want to do God sized work for Him. I want to honor Him and glorify Him. But how much have I missed because I was looking for the black bear and missed the butterfly and the bumblebee?

What about you? Have you been looking for the black bear in your life?