Wednesday morning of this week, Rob Wetzel and I skipped out on the morning of sessions at Innovate Church, and opted instead to get up early, drive out to the Peaks of Otter, and hike to the top of Sharp Top. There was a period of time on Tuesday afternoon when it seemed like the trip might not work out.
But God had a special appointment for us. We had not been hiking for more than five minutes when we stumbled upon the picture below.
All of these pictures were taken from my Iphone (which has no zoom). So in case you can't tell what that is in the picture below, it's a black bear. A 400 pound black bear by our estimates. And he was sitting 5 feet of the side of our trail! When we first saw him he was about 25 yards away. I spotted him first, and then the following conversation ensued:
Smooth: Rob, is that a bear?
Rob: No, no. That's not a bear.
Smooth: Rob, I think that's a bear, but is it real or is it like a carving or something?
Rob: There's no way that's a real bear. (then clapping and yelling at the top of his lungs) HEY BEAR! HEEEEY BEAR! HEY BEAR! … (bear doesn't move) … See? That's not a real bear.
Smooth: Rob, I think that's a real bear.
(bear turns his head and looks directly at us)
Rob: Holy crap! That's a real bear!
(we slowly start backing down the hill)
Well, we stood there for about 10 minutes debating about how badly we wanted to make it to the top. When finally the bear slowly started making his way into the woods. As he moved, we moved… slowly. Every so often he would stop and turn and look directly at us. We would freeze as if we were in Jurassic Park rather than the Peaks of Otter! Eventually we felt we were safe to continue our journey, and about an hour later we arrived at the top.
It's been more than a couple of years since I had been to the top, and I had forgotten how breath taking the view is. The white that you see in some of these pictures is not water but clouds! After looking around for a bit, Rob and I separated and each spent some time with God on the mountaintop. That time of solitude was so needed for me. God spoke very clearly to me up there. It was absolutely amazing to commune with God surround by the grandeur and splendor of his creation.
Well, eventually it was time to make our way back down, but God wasn't done with our special appointment. We came down off the rocks, back down to the trail and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of three grazing deer.
Truth be told, this was the highlight of the conference for me (well, that and going to Mill Mountain Coffee, the best coffee shop in the world). I have the greatest Father in the world. Thank you Father, for meeting with me there. Thank you for that special appointment. Thank you for speaking to me that day and everyday.