Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Miracle on the Mountain"

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little. It wasn't such a big one; not like the fire that fell on Elijah's altar.Not exactly like when Mt. Sinai trembled and smoked.

But it was a little one; something out of the ordinary. And when you're like me, not really sure if you've ever seen a miracle, even the smallest one seems exceptionally special.

It happened like this.

 Several weeks ago, my two young "mountain men" apprentices (who for our purposes here we'll call Copernious and Austonio) and I headed out one Sat. morning for the Peaks of Otter. I mean how could you consider yourselves mountain men if every now and again you wouldn't actually climb one, right?
Move over Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; you've got some up and coming competition!

We had done our preparations well. At least the most important ones. Like filling our packs with plenty of beef sticks, jerky, chips, cookies, a soda apiece and subs from Rosie's Cozy Kitchen. You know, the bare essentials from all the main food groups.

Now there are many terrible things that could happen to you on a dangerous mountain climb, things like falling off a cliff, getting lost, or getting et up by a bear. But dying of starvation would have to be the absolute  worst thing of all.

We looked at the map before we left. I told them that I sometimes like to find a "road less traveled" (who would have guessed it) to get where I'm going rather than always taking the big well traveled  all-so-boring highways.  

So instead of taking Rt.43 at Bedford and heading for the Peaks, we went on past a ways and turned off on a small country road and headed north. I had never been this way myself. It lead us thru some beautiful countryside and kept getting narrower and less populated until it finally turned to gravel.                 ( Mary always says that this is when I begin to get happy)

 Sitting right along side the road opposite  one of the last houses, was a very old truck, older than any I recognized. Maybe something out of the forties? It looked like it had just gotten parked there one day and there it still was. Gave you the feeling that time had maybe stood still up in this hollow.

After passing the last houses the road started heading up the mountain. And head up the mountain it did. There were a few places you could look down and see two or three curves below us where we had switchbacked our way thru just before. Copernious said he was getting some scared feelings about this route.

We did make it (which you've probably concluded by now) and actually came out right beside the Sharp Top parking lot without  ever getting on the Parkway or Rt. 43 either one. And that's not even the miracle yet.

Next was trying to decide how many clothes to leave on for the climb. It was cold at the bottom of the mountain so, as I figured, we left on one too many jackets and soon got too warm. We stopped by a rock in the middle of the trail (one we thought we'd recognize on the way down) and hid our coats up the bank a ways and covered them with leaves.

I know, you're trying to be patient about the miracle. That's just it; miracles don't happen very often to the impatient, so just try to stay calm.

We had climbed at least three fourths of the way up when we encountered a group of people stopped along the trail. Some on one side and some on the other. We started to make our way thru the group and were just about past the last few when one guy said to me, "Would you care to join us for a time of prayer?"

 I said sure, so we stopped on the uphill side of the group. And those in the group started praying, randomly one after the other.

Now these prayers weren't exactly like mine. These people went on thanking God for the lovely day, for His beautiful creation and the privilege we all have to be part of it. Just pure worship, plain and simple.

Now I believe all that same stuff too, but when I pray I get right down to business. "Lord, we've got a need here. We need strength to go on. Someone is in an extremely trying situation, Lord. Unless You put forth Your Hand to help us, we won't make it, Lord!"

So I was listening, drinking in the beauty in these prayers. I had a hard time not crying; it felt like God was meeting me on this mountain.

About this time, Copernious launched in praying. And lo and behold when he was done Austonio started in. You talk about something that made this old mountain man's heart about to pop!

I did gain my composure enough before the prayer meeting was done to pray myself  without blubbering. I prayed that just as we were on this climb today that we would take up the challenge of the "climb of life". And that we would encourage each other on the way. And that He would guide our steps so we do not stumble.

Finally the guy who was to close did so, and we were done. I thanked them and told them that I've spent some time in discouragement lately and this was a real encouragement to me.

I wondered too where they were from. I was thinking the whole time that this was one group, together. As they began to say where they were from, I realized that they weren't all one group. No, they said, some of us just met right here on the trail. One group heard someone in the other group say that this would be a good place to stop and have prayer. And the second group came along and asked if they could join them. And then we came along before they got started.

So we were at least three groups of strangers gathered on one mountain in the same prayer meeting. How many times has this happened to you? A small miracle, wouldn't you say?

Another thing really blessed me as we were chatting afterwards. One of the ladies (who we had passed a while before on the trail) said that when we passed by,both boys looked her full in the face and said a friendly hello. She said very few youngsters look at you with full, open faces these days.
She said that she thought to herself at the time, "These guys are believers!"

I told the boys on the way home how proud I was of them praying. Copernious said he figured that if these people are Christians and he's a Christian, he might as well. Austonio said that when Copernious prayed it gave him the courage to do the same.  I commended them on the friendly, open face thing as well.

It would have been a lovely day without the miracle. With it, the day was outstanding.

And from now on when I round that last turn before coming into Gladys, (where on clear days you can see the Peaks of Otter  looming up 50 or 60 miles away) I will always remember the "miracle on the mountain."

The children of Israel set up twelve stones for a monument; I'm gonna claim old Sharp Top for one of mine.

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