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.

5 thoughts on “An Unexpected Friend atop the Chimney

  1. The pictures are absolutely beautiful, and I’m jealous. However, I think the key phrase in your blog was, “I saw a young fellow perched…” One of these days we are BOTH going to have to acknowledge that young we aren’t. But maybe not this year, huh?

  2. Praise God someone was praying for your safety on that slippery incline and praise HIM, too, for rewarding you with that sweet worship time with a zealous believer.
    Thanks again for being at our library conference in Chattanooga. It has sparked renewed interest in your books.

  3. Rob,

    Isn’t it awe-inspiring to see the little rendezvous God arranges to encourage and teach us along the journey. This morning, for me, it was a connection with an African-american trucker/minister at Starbucks. Our conversation was one of mutual encouragement and joy. We talked of our journeys, the challenges of life and the blessings of the Lord. I invited him to join us for worship should he find himself in Russellville on Sunday. After we completed our visit, sat back down at our separate tables, Louis came back to the table and asked if he could give his tithes to our church since he had been blessed by our visit.

    It was just a small stop in the course of the day, but it was a blessing shared. My mountaintop today, I suppose.

  4. Rob,
    You absolutely amaze me! While the rest of us were drinking coffee or taking an afternoon nap after the busy morning session, you were out climbing mountains. I’m sure there is a lesson for the rest of us in your mountaintop experience.

  5. Pastor Rob,

    You blessed me yesterday in the message The War for the Ten Commandments. And then I come here to read your blog and you bless me again. I smiled to think that you climbed this mountain and found a young man who wanted to share the gospel with YOU. It sounds precisely like something you would do had you gotten there first and he came later. You’re a blessing!


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