An Unexpected Friend atop the Chimney

  How’s this for a mountaintop experience? During our free afternoon at the Tennessee State FWB Association this week, I decided to go for a hike. My original plan was to hike to Laurel Falls, but I missed the trailhead and ended up on the Chimney Top trail. Despite a cloudless day of warm sunshine and 70 degrees, the forest was cold and the trail was icy. It wound around the mountain with hairpin turns; the slick spots were treacherous.

Just when I finally thought I was at the summit, I realized I still needed to crawl up fifty or sixty feet of slate at a steep angle. It was like climbing up a slate roof. I tried one way and then another and decided it wasn’t safe for me. Just as I was about to give up, I saw a young fellow perched at the very top, shoes and socks off, leaning back in the sunshine, taking in the view. I decided if he could do it, so could I. The final attempt was successful, and a few minutes later I plopped down beside him.

He was Asian, in his mid-twenties, and he smiled like we were old friends. After a smattering of conversation, he said, “I was just going to ask if you would go to heaven if you were to die right now?” He proceeded to share the Gospel with me. Turns out he’s a Korean student attending a Bible college in Knoxville, training to be a pastor. He’s a zealous soul-winner and longs to return to Korea with the hope of one day taking the Gospel to the North. He had climbed Chimney Top to refresh his heart and mind, and he was up there reading his Bible. We sat for a long time up on top of the world with the Smokies stretching out in all directions; and we had prayer together. Joseph was a great encouragement to me; I hope I was to him, too. We never know who we’ll meet on life’s pathways; but it’s always an adventure when the Lord directs our steps.