On Staying to the right!!!

You may or may not know but these past two weeks my husband and I were on vacation. We went to Texas for a week to spend time with my oldest son and his fiancé. And then we headed to Tennessee. During our time in Tennessee, we went for a hike up to Laurel Falls in the Great Smokey Mountains. It was a wonderful hike, and the scenery was gorgeous, breath taking, majestic. It is amazing how creative God is. I took lots of pictures on the way up of the scenery but mainly of various rock formations peeking out from the dense forest foliage and of wildflowers. I love wildflowers. I especially marveled at the massive rhododendrons. Some of them were small trees and the leaves, well I have never seen rhododendron leaves that large. They looked like azaleas on steroids! It was past their blooming season, but some still had a few blooms of white with delicate shades of pink outlining the petals. The hike was good medicine for this wood’s girl living in a beach town.

As we neared  our destination, the sound of water cascading down over rocks alerted us the falls were nearby. We were told it was a popular hiking destination and it definitely was! There were many people on the path, but everyone was relatively quiet as we hiked up the mountain and to the falls. We all seemed to be entranced by the beauty surrounding us. I personally, was mesmerized by the creativity of God. The area was beautiful, the stream bed surrounded by lush forest growth, and the water flowed crystal clear. We could climb down to the stream bed and walk around hopping from rock to rock to keep our feet dry. As I looked around me, in the middle of the stream bed someone had erected an Ebenezer. A simple tower of rocks right in the middle of everyone walking around taking pictures and enjoying the beauty of the place. Truly a slice of heaven here on earth.

When we were done, we began our trip down the mountain and here it got very noisy. We found ourselves behind a field trip of teenagers. Between 30 and 40 of them and they were noisily chatting as we descended. At one point I happened to be in front of a couple who were talking politics. I stopped to let them pass. I was having a hard enough time trying to enjoy my surroundings in the midst of all the  noise. You see, throughout the journey down, their adult leaders were shouting: “Stay to the right!” or “Single file!” Although we frequently heard: “Chase, stay to the right!” And I found myself being rather annoyed at all the commotion they were making. I was looking forward to a peaceful walk down the mountainside and here I was in the middle of a bunch of noisy teenagers who had no clue or chose not to follow, trail etiquette. So, their leaders were constantly and loudly reminding them. But then my pastor side kicked in, and I began to think about what was happening.

Here was a group of teenagers who couldn’t follow two simple directions. And I began to think about Eden. Here we all were. People from many walks of life, many ethnicities, ages from babies to older adults, and we were all in this beautiful setting. A garden if you will. And this particular group, couldn’t follow two simple instructions any more than Adam and Eve could follow one. It made me chuckle. I also began to be less annoyed with the teenagers because, what I realized is that while I may have decent trail etiquette, there are other things I don’t do well. There are other rules, I struggle to follow. We all have them. I began to wonder if they had even been taught trail etiquette. I mean how can you follow a rule if you don’t know about it in the first place. I also began to feel sorry for Chase.

I think the funniest part of the entire trip down the mountain was almost at the bottom when the leaders of this group told them all to stop and line up on the mountainside of the trail. You see for most of the trail there were two side: “Mountainside” and “Deep Drop into Nothingness.” Most of the group understood quickly what the leaders asked them to do. All but one, who stood in the middle of the pathway blocking the way for the rest of us, which was quite a few people, who were trying to get by.  I happened to be the first one to reach him. Unable to get by on the path I chose to simply begin pointing toward the mountainside and asked him to “move.” He looked at me like I spoke Greek and just stood there…that is until, my husband caught up to me and said, “Son, the mountain side is over there…That is where you need to be. After a few seconds, I think what we were asking finally registered and he moved to get in line with all the rest of his group as we and everyone behind us continued down the mountain and to our waiting cars. As I reached our car, I wondered if that wasn’t Chase who we had to ask to move out of the way and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

I pray that as you go through your day, you remember that none of us are able to follow every direction. We struggle. We make mistakes. We fail. Isn’t it great that God offers each one of us an unimaginable amount of grace! Maybe grace is something we should offer one another too. Especially for all the Chase’s in our lives who struggle to follow directions.

Peace,

Pastor Beth

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