Bad Lands

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went on a road trip through South Dakota. I really wanted to see Mt. Rushmore. As I researched the area before we went, I identified a few other places I thought we should see.

As we entered the Badlands National Park, we drove along slowly, following the looping road on the map they gave us. Herds of bighorn sheep were feeding on the grasses next to the road. It was fun to see them so close-up, I got some great photos.

As we moved deeper into the park, it was evident why the area has such a dreary name.


I could just imagine the explorers seeing this place for the first time and saying, “Yep. This is some bad land alright.” Everywhere I looked, all I saw were craters and bare rock.

We kept on driving, accompanied by the moonscape spreading out beside us. I happened to look at one particularly vertical cliff and saw an amazing sight. In the middle of this barren and stony land, there was a bighorn sheep standing completely upright on the side of a sheer drop. I wish I got a photo of it, but by the time I realized what I saw, we were past it. Incredible! All around there was just…nothing. Yet there he stood, all casual-like, just checking out the scene.


Devil’s Tower is in Wyoming, but it wasn’t a long drive. It took about 90 minutes to get there. As we neared the formation, we could see it looming up in the distance.


The land around it was flat for miles so it stuck out like a sore thumb. Sheer rock, almost completely vertical, it rose up to the heavens. Such an impressive sight.

We hiked the trail around the base of the tower. It was a twisty, winding and rocky path. My husband brought along binoculars, so he stopped to take a closer look at the drape-like folds in the rock. After a few minutes he dropped the lenses to his chest and said, “I can’t believe it.”


Can you see them? There were two men repelling slowly down the side of the rock face. It looked like it couldn’t be done, but these were two very determined climbers.


These two experiences really made me think. In the middle of barren, vertical land, there was life. Even in what seemed to be the harshest environment, God’s creatures not only overcame, they thrived. Whether animal or human, it was clear that they all were created and prepared to face the harsh environment. In the middle of what looked like nothing.

I think God was showing me that he has fully prepared me too. Sometimes I’m in a bad land. Support is hard to find, and my hope is fading. But even in the face of rocky times he still whispers, “Do not be afraid.”

“I have created you to not only overcome, but to thrive.”

Surrounded by the Spirit on Facebook

Linking today with: Chronicles of Grace

84 thoughts on “Bad Lands

  1. I do find it amazing how nature can grow in such adverse conditions. I love being out and about and drinking in the beauty. I love how I feel restored and happy! Lovely photos and it makes me want to visit that place one day!

    • Hi Karen! We are alike in our awe then. It really is amazing how animals were created to live there, or at least to adapt to it. I would recommend a visit sometime, you’d be surprised how much there is to see.

      Thank you for your visit today! I look forward to getting to know you better 🙂

  2. Wow. All creation surely does testify to the grand wonder of our God and the mysteries of His sacred holiness.

    And … dear Ceil, I’m kind of relieved that wasn’t you rapelling there. Yikes, girl!

    • Hi Linda! Let me give you a great big “Amen Sister!” It does make you fill with awe just looking at it all.

      Good Lord dear, I would never repel down anything. Even a mountain of chocolate! I’d sit back and watch you though 🙂 LOL!

      Have a peaceful night my friend,

    • Hi Pam! Oh, thank you for the photo complements. I am always frustrated that my photos don’t look or reflect the grandeur I see. I think that’s a common feeling.

      I love road trips. Even if it’s to a forest, or a drive through the country. It always gives me peace.

      Thanks for visiting! Have a restful night,

  3. Ceil: We have never been out there. Years ago, a friend of my dad’s went out there when we were in Iowa. The man took his family through there and decided,”Things were looking up at home!” in comparison.

    • Hi Cecelia! It’s a very beautiful area. But not in a lush way. Most of the land is ranching in the southwestern part of the state. The rocky soil can’t handle crops. I did see several sunflower fields though. That was fun to see.

      It’s always great to get out and see some of the US that I’d not seen before. I don’t always get the chance, it was nice to share it with you.

      Have a restful night,

    • Hi Stephanie! I really agree. I love to be outside and walking, it never fails to give me some peace and see how great our Creator is.

      The Badlands were very impressive, I have to say. Maybe someday you can see it too!
      Thank you for your visit today, have a restful night,

  4. Your photos are beautiful! It’s amazing how animals can thrive in conditions like that. As you said, God prepares them and us too. Thanks for sharing that reassuring thought!

    • Hi Mari! It really was a shock to see that sheep on the sheer rock. How do they do that! LOL! God truly is an amazing creator.

      And it’s good to know that we are all created prepared for our role in the world. That’s a good thing, because it can get pretty rocky sometimes.

      Happy Monday!

    • Hi Leslie! Happy belated birthday! I’m so glad you had such a fun celebration.

      Thank you for your kind comment about the post. I appreciate your support 🙂 It sure is good to know that we really are prepared by God for all the events of our lives.

      Have a happy Monday!

  5. The desert and other harsh environments always amaze me–the beauty is often in the intricate details of the small things that survive and flourish there–which tells me that I have no reason to not be ‘beautiful’ in character and thought, even when I feel like I’m in a desert or a harsh land ;).

    • Hi Anita! I agree with your comment. The challenge is in asking “Can I remember that I am equipped for this arid land?” We truly can make it through the desert as long as the grace of God leads.

      Nice to see you today 🙂

  6. God’s creation is so amazing, even in a land that appears to be barren. Your photo of the huge rock made me think of the verse in Luke 19: 39 that speaks of the rocks will cry out if no one will praise the Lord (paraphrase). Can you imagine that huge rock praising our Lord?
    Sounds like you and your husband had a wonderful trip. Thanks for sharing your awesome pics. 🙂

    • Hi Marilyn! It’s always so great to see you!

      Wow, that rock would make a huge noise, wouldn’t it? This creative place truly does sing the love and art of The Lord. It’s really so different from anything I had ever seen before. Definitely worth the trip. I’m glad you liked the photos!

      Happy Monday my friend,

    • Hi Lauren! We really were in amazement. My Dad had visited the area before, and he told us when we saw the Badlands, we’d understand the name. He was right!

      But life was still thriving there, which is such a great metaphor for me. I can thrive in my bad lands too.

      Have a happy Monday 🙂

    • Hi Susan! Oh my goodness, I wonder if he would want to climb this? The rangers had a flyer that explained that the climbers go up at their own risk. The closest hospital is an hour away and if they get into trouble, it will be difficult to retrieve them, as the rangers are not climbers.

      Sobering words, but I think it’s like fuel on the fire for these adventurers!
      Nice to see you today 🙂

    • Hi Shelly! I think you will really like it. There’s so much to see besides Mt. Rushmore (which is amazing btw).

      Thank you for your kind comment about the message 🙂

  7. I have never been in this area but it does look “BAD”. Thank you for your closing comments. This morning I feel completely overwhelmed by my circumstances and now I feel like it’s going to be ok. He has prepared me to thrive and overcome right where I am. 🙂 It’s going to be alright!

    • Hi Monica! Oh, I’m sorry for your worries. It stinks to wake up and feel that way. How wonderful that you found some encouragement here, I am so glad. You know that God has it in the palm of his hand. He will always be faithful to you, he’s crazy about you!

      Thank you for your visit today, it’s always so nice to see you,

  8. I love this testimony to God’s handiwork! Sounds like a wonderful trip. So glad you shared it with us. 🙂 I am constantly amazed and blessed at the variation in the world around us – God’s imagination knows no bounds, it seems.

    • Hi Karen! It was a great trip. So many people think So. Dakota is so barren, but it has it’s own kind of beauty.

      You are so right, God’s creative imagination is boundless! And he provides for us all, equipping us for the way.

      Have a great afternoon!

    • Hi Tammy! Me too! I had no idea it was so far away either. I had wanted to go last year but then realized it was going to take a long car trip.

      Thank you for your lovely comment about the post. I really appreciate it!
      Have a wonderful afternoon,

  9. What a beautiful area and amazing photographs, Ceil. I bet the hiking was a thrill. I also think of this often, how God made specific animals to thrive in harsh environments. He is there to get us through difficult times. He sure has made us resilient too.

    • Hi Kim! Oh thank you about the photos. It seems like pictures never really look like what you see with your own eye. It’s frustrating. But those two guys were just amazing!

      That’s a good word, ‘resilient’, it’s perfect. Yes, he will prepare us for any situation.

      So good to see you!

  10. Amen! Those photo’s are gorgeous and this… I loved this simple yet powerful line: “In the middle of barren, vertical land, there was life.” Isn’t that just always the case… if we will but slow and look for it! Loved this post! Visiting from Kelli’s today, where we are neighbors!

    • Hi Karrilee! Thank you for your kind words. You are so right about going slow, if we were, I would have gotten an unbelievable shot of that sheep. It was a jaw-dropping sight.

      Thank you for visiting through the bloghop! I ran over to visit you too 🙂

  11. Ceil, I laughed out loud when you said, “Yep. This is some bad land alright.”

    We’ve experienced “bad land” and you’re right, God is always there in the middle of it offering life. Life that gives hope and the courage to go through. Thanks for this great encouragement.

    • Hi Deb! I’m glad you laughed! I’m sure if I was the explorer I wouldn’t be though. Man, all that expanse that just looks good for nothing. And yet, it somehow supports life.

      I’m thankful you felt encouraged. Thank you for sharing that! It did seem that if God can sustain life on these barren lands, he can do the same with us 🙂


  12. What wonderful photos. Thank you Ceil for sharing them with us.

    We all go through “bad lands” at times in our lives. When it happens to me I look back at what God did for me and take courage and hope in the future.

    God bless you and yours.

    • Hi Victor! That’s a great idea to keep you head up high. Knowing that God has done…so he will do also.

      It was a beautiful place, just in a different way. God’s creation is so varied and vast.

      Blessings to you always,

    • Hi Susannah! It would be a great trip someday. Mt. Rushmore was really impressive, but it’s not the only wonder in southwest North Dakota. I would say my eyes were opened on this trip 🙂

      Have a peaceful evening,

  13. Sometimes we can get so focused on the challenges, the vertical climb, the rocks, etc. that we forget who goes before, behind, and with us.
    God is in control. He prepares step by step for the mountains we must climb.
    Nothing is too hard for Him.

    Thanks for sharing. It’s a powerful reminder to trust God.

    • Hi TC! I like the way you talk about the climb itself. We are not alone, even though it often feels that way. Thanks be to him who makes sure we are as sure-footed as a mountain goat!

      Have a peaceful evening my friend,

  14. I love the spiritual lesson you took away from the Badlands! I’ve never been to that part of the country. It looks pretty desolate. And yes, I did see the mountain climbers. Glad you pointed them out or I would have missed them.

    Blessings and love,

    • Hi Debbie! I had never been there before either. It really had it’s own beauty, not the classic lush forest, but a stark one. I can’t believe that my husband saw them! They were quite a hit with all the hikers.

      Have a peaceful evening! Hope your Monday was a good one,

    • Hi Joe! I like your gravitar, it looks like you are at the beach!

      It was a real eye-opener to see this part of the country. Vast, rocky…but beautiful!

      Have a peaceful evening 🙂

  15. Makes me nervous just looking at the picture of the two men. ha. I love your point though that God has fully prepared us for whatever he wants us to face. “Do not be afraid.” I need to hear those words again and again. Thanks for this, Ceil!

    • Hi Lisa! No kidding! Everyone looking up thought it was crazy! But they were ready for the challenge. They were not afraid. What an image to remember in the bad lands of life.

      Nice to see you today! Have a restful night,

  16. “Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a weary land, a weary land, Oh Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm…” Seeing that huge tower/rock made me start singing this hymn. Don’t know if you know it, but the name of it is “A Shelter in the Time of Storm”…and seeing all that “badland” and the ‘Devil’s Tower’ just reminded me of how “The Lord’s our Rock… in Him we hide,…”Secure whatever ill betide…”
    We are so blessed to know where to find that strength and shelter when we need it in the midst of the bleakness of our “badlands” of life. Thank you for this reminder today. Loved it.

    • Hi Pam! I am not familiar with that song, but it’s perfect to sing looking at all these sheer rock formations. He is our Rock and our salvation. Great image, thank you for offering it!

      I’m so glad you liked the post. Have a restful night my friend,

  17. Beautiful Ceil! God is so amazing. When I see scenery like this it just takes my breath away. What a magnificent and glorious creator.

    I like your parallel here too… those rocky times, he’s there, always and forevermore.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Jennifer! It really does boggle the mind, doesn’t it? I had never seen country like this, it was a fun revelation. Plenty to think about too.

      I agree! In all seasons he is with us, and we can thrive with him.
      It’s always good to see you Jennifer. Happy Tuesday!

  18. I have seen the Bad Lands- oh the sheer brilliance of nature’s finest!! I can think of so many deep realizations those pictures can bring…

    I love your perspective, my friend. Beautiful message as always.

    May we always search for and find and illuminate light and life even in the midst of the bare landscape of our circumstances.

    • Hi Chris! So you’ve seen them too! It really is amazing. I agree that nature is a real trigger for thought and comparison to God’s great acts of creation.

      I’ll join you in your prayer. I hope to see his movement in all of his creation!

  19. Sorry I’m late to this party Ceil. Long day. Just wanted to say I loved the pictures. I have been there to the Bad Lands and it is as you described. We went in July and about froze our you-know-what off when we stopped for a picnic lunch. As for your thoughts: that last paragraph will preach (as they say).

    • Hi Bill! You are as welcome as the Spring anytime, you know that!

      How fun that you have been to the Badlands too. Wow, it was that cold in July? That part of the country is so funny with weather. It had snowed there two weeks before we left, I really thought I’d have to pack my long underwear! It was actually 90 degrees one of the days we were there. What a change!

      Thank you for your kind words about the lesson I learned from the sights I saw. It sure preached to me.
      Tuesday blessings!

  20. Woo! How bold and courageous of these climbers 🙂
    Ceil, you bless me so much with your thought on this experience. I’m so thankful that, in the middle of barren and fearful circumstances God is always with us, watching over us to bring us through to victory. Our God is always able to deliver, no matter the Bad Land before us! Hallelujah!

    Glad you and your husband enjoyed your trip and family time together. Thanks for sharing! Have a blessed day 🙂

    • Hi Shade! Those climbers were bold all right. And a little crazy too! There wasn’t a hospital for over an hour away, and the rangers made it clear that if they got stuck, they’d be there a while. None of them are climbers!

      But God is there is every rock on our journey. Even in the bad land, he causes life. Hallelujah is right!!
      Happy Tuesday my friend,

  21. What an awesome experience you and your husband had. I cannot understand how those sheep can stand on the side of a steep mountain….other than God created them to do just that! Love your analogies of your trip!!! I’m so glad when when I see a comment from you on my blog!!! HOPE the rest of your week is just plain awesome.

    • Hi Deb! Believe me, it looked as crazy as it sounds. Amazing!

      I’m so glad you like the post, and me visiting you too. Isn’t it wonderful how God brought us together?

      Keep up those beautiful headers of yours. I love them!
      Evening blessings,

  22. We live in a unique and amazing country….I think it would be interesting to watch the landscape change’s. Sure would not like liven there though. I am a green grass tree girl 🙂

    • Hi Dee! That is so true! From one end of the US to the other you just see so many different types of land.

      I really like the Southwest, so I don’t know if I’m a green-grass girl or not? But there’s plenty of different places to pick from in this country 🙂
      So nice to see you today Dee!

    • Hi Patty! I feel the same way. I guess I really didn’t know what to expect, but finding the beauty in such a stripped place was easy to see. So different from where I live, and you too!

      God is an infinite Creator.
      Thank you for your always kind words about the post. I appreciate your encouragement!
      Have a restful night,

    • Hi Brenda! It is beautiful, both in life and the spirit! I think if God can create a goat that can stand on sheer rock, he can do the same with me.

      Thank you for visiting today!
      Happy Wednesday 🙂

  23. His creation is just amazing, isn’t it? Just reading your posts makes me think back to the various places I’ve been where you wouldn’t expect to find His creatures, but there they are. I’m thinking of the long, long drive up we take in Rocky Mountain National Park. He’s just amazing. His glorious wonders never end. Blessings to you. xoxo

    • Hi Beth! That is another beautiful place. I would love to take a long, long drive through there again. I did camp one time in the park, it was amazing, just as you said. I am glad I didn’t meet his wildlife face-to-face though. I like looking from a distance 🙂

      Hope you’re having a great week my friend,

    • Hi Mindy! It was a fun trip, but man, it was a lot of driving too! But that’s how I got to appreciate the differing landscapes. The variety of places and spaces was a real eye-opener.

      Thank you for your kind words about the post. I appreciate your support my friend.
      Happy Wednesday 🙂

  24. I love how our Lord speaks to us to powerfully through the beauty of His creation. It never ceases to amaze me how He guides us when we need it the most. 🙂

    • Hi Anita! I love that too. I find a lot of inspiration when I walk outdoors, or see beautiful new lands. This was definitely an eye-opener.

      May God always lead us to his will!
      Wednesday blessings,

  25. I love how you found life in the midst of desolation. The analogy that we also can find life in the middle of our dry periods with the help of God is a promise that is comforting and reassuring. Beautiful! Hugs and blessings!

    • Hi Mary! I’m so glad that you felt comforted by the post, thank you for telling me that. It does seem like nothing good can come from the barren times, but God keeps showing us that he can work through anything.

      There can be life and love in any circumstance. That is reassuring!
      Have a restful night,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *