Last year my beautiful wife, my lovely daughter Savannah and I were able to take a trip to the Great Smokey Mountains. What a wonderful place these great mountains hold in my heart. I will never forget the first time I beheld the beauty and grandeur of this special little place. On that trip we went to Clingmans Dome, watched bears scamper through Maggie Valley and talked with the Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Since then many trips have been logged up Interstate 40 through Knoxville to the Pigeon Forge Exit. I have had the pleasure to conduct a number of youth camps, retreats, enjoy the quiet of cabins and condos for rest and even attended a wedding in those glorious mountains. I also spent my honeymoon there with my precious wife twelve years ago this past May.
With that trip, Tina and I have made it a point to venture up into the hills as often as possible. But it is never often enough-I know because I am constantly reminded of this by not only Tina but Savannah as well.
Last year was the third trip Savannah has made to the mountains and this was the one she will remember. While at Alewine Pottery she ran into one of her schoolmates and had fun running and playing. She enjoyed a number of activities and sights. She loved the Applewood Restaurant and requested a table with porch swings; the Rainforest Adventure Zoo was a fun place as well where she held a Boa, draping it around her neck, much to her mother’s horror; at Mr.Gatti’s pizza she tried her best to beat her daddy at the Nascar video machines; in the Aquarium she marveled at the size of the sword fish as it swam above our heads and grinned like she had won some huge prize when she actually petted a horse shoe crab; and she begged to ride the chair lift up the side of the mountain.
Now, let me tell you that took some doing, to tell her that was one adventure she would have to wait on. I have a hard time turning her down. I will admit, she has me wrapped around her little finger, but this was one thing we were not going to take part in.
As we walked along the sidewalk which runs along the river, she looked up and watched the chair lifts inch their way up and down the mountain side. Her eyes were as big as saucers as she formulated a plan to get on one of those and ascend up and up and up to the top of the mountain.
“Daddy, please,” she pleaded, “I want to ride one of those so bad.”
“Honey,” I replied, “I don’t think that would be a good ideal.”
“But daddy, please, I’ve just got to ride that thing,” she said as her beautiful eyes sparkled in the early evening light.
Thinking as quickly as possible, I responded with, “Savannah, we just are not going to be able to do that this time.”
“But daddy,” she replied, “please, oh, please let me do it, let me ride. You and me we can go, you don’t have to be scared, cause I’ll be with you.”
I looked at her. I looked at her mother. I shook my head and wondered where she got the ideal I was scared. I mean really, where does she come up with these things? I mean, never once did I say I was scared to ride a piece of metal, with a nylon belt in the seat, attached to a cable which spanned the mountain side at an angle crossing a river and tree tops at an height I would not like to even consider.
So, alright then, I was scared. Yet, I am biblical in my fear. That is correct! I am just being biblical, because Jesus said, “Lo, I will be with you always.” Therefore, my feet are going to stay on the ground. There I said it and even as a man, I will admit that the chair lift is just not for me.
Friends, Jesus did say He would never leave us or forsake us. We are His, when we accept His gift of salvation and forgiveness and there is nothing or no one who can separate us from Him. Paul said:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39 HCSB)
We arrived back to our home later that week. While unloading the truck, I found Savannah and Tina in the den. They had designated a special jar for us to throw our change into for our next trip to the Smokies. Tina was explaining to Savannah that we would use this money to do some of the things we did not get to do on this last trip.
I groaned as Savannah looked up at Tina and said, “Mommy, me and daddy are going to ride the chair lift.”
Well, I know what you are thinking and you are right in what you are thinking. The next time I will not say no.
Come to think of it, it might be good to see another part of the country. I have been thinking about Memphis, Tennessee. I mean, I wonder if I could get the girls to consider going to see the birthplace of the King-Elvis, or maybe visit the great Bellevue Baptist Church, or eat breakfast with the ducks at the Peabody.