The view out my window this morning was nothing but thick fog. Even after getting breakfast and spending the morning and lunch time talking with people about the prayer-focused resources I had available, the fog remained when I returned to my room for an extended afternoon break. As I contemplated what my afternoon free time would look like, I began to wonder if the road over the mountains between Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina would rise above the fog. The adventurer in me wanted to get out and hike and the photographer in me wanted to take pictures from above the fog. Fortunately, the solution for both of those was to get out and drive the Newfound Gap road looking for adventure and photo opportunities. As it turned out, I found both. 🙂
The drive up the mountainside was foggy until just before the Newfound Gap overlook as the road crested the mountain. As I left the fog behind, it was still spread out like a blanket over the area I had just left. The photo opportunities I anticipated were also spread out in the valley below. As I stood at the dividing line between Tennessee and North Carolina, the contrast was remarkable. Fog blanketed the valleys and low-lying areas on the Tennessee side of the mountain while it was completely clear on the North Carolina side. With clear skies ahead, I headed toward a series of waterfalls and hikes that I now knew would be clearly visible with no fog on their side of the mountain.
As I enjoyed the beautiful afternoon, I thought about the verse in Proverbs that talks about the sluggard saying he is not going out because there is a lion in the street. I’ve always heard that it was unlikely that there was actually a lion but that since it was a possibility it simply became an excuse not to do what needed done. When I worked on a roofing crew, there were times we were rained off of a job, but never a time we were “forecasted” off of a job. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of doing the things God wants us to do because we are not willing to move forward in faith by simply taking the next step. The prospects don’t look that promising. The “what ifs” tend to paralyze us and we never end up knowing if the should have been actually could have been. It would have been easy today for me to look at the fog and decide it wasn’t good hiking weather and it would be impossible to take pictures that would turn out at all. What if I get to the top of the mountain and it is just as foggy there as where I started from? I overcame the “what ifs” and decided I would never know until I got out and tried it. The result was even better than I had hoped for but the truth is even if the fog had continued up one side of the mountain and all the way down the other, it would have been a good trip to enjoy the goodness of God’s creation.
As I wrapped up my sightseeing on the North Carolina side of the mountain it was looking possible that I would reach the peak just as the sun was setting. I hadn’t even thought about trying to make that happen and it was looking as if God was wanting to give me an extra blessing beyond all the goodness He had already shared today. As it turned out, I was a little late getting to the peak for the best photos but I had incredible views of the sun setting down the back side of the mountain — there just weren’t any pull-offs with clearings to the west where I could get pictures of anything but trees with a sunset behind them. Even so, there was still some color in the sky when I reached the top so I managed a few pictures of a fading sunset.