by Emily Cook


“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.”
(Psalm 121, NASV)

This past Summer we had the opportunity to take a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. It’s amazing to me when you get out in nature away from the noise of the world just how clearly God speaks through His creation. During these times, I’m reminded of the clarity in which Jesus spoke through parables using the simple language of trees, birds, and flowers. I think if we’ll slow down, there are so many spiritual lessons our kids can learn by something as simple as taking a walk.

On our trip we took a tour of Cades Cove, and an accidental five mile hike to Abrams Falls with our two, five, and seven-year-olds. On our journey there was no cell phone signal, but the Holy Spirit was speaking clearly along the path.

To start the walk we had to cross a narrow bridge over water to begin our hike. The narrowest parts of the trail were the hardest because you had to go alone, but I was praying the whole way that God would get us through to the next challenge. Just like in the Christian life, the narrow path is sometimes lonely, but God never leaves you and His fellowship is never sweeter than in the times when you choose to go with Him above all else.

The trail was filled with tree roots, rocks, steep inclines, etc. I showed the kids the tall trees and how they were planted by water and their roots stretched way out. Just like the Bible tells us we will be when we follow His paths of righteousness.

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-2, NASV)

We kept seeing families turn back around. They couldn’t make it to the falls. I even wanted to turn around when I saw how daunting the hike was, but my kids were determined to see this amazing waterfall. We discussed how in the Christian life, sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes we want to give up and throw in the towel. But God gives us the strength to persevere.

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13, NASV)

We told them we might be tempted to wonder if the waterfall is even real at all. All these people are telling us that there is a waterfall at the end of the trail, but we haven’t seen it. Why should we believe them? This gave us a great opportunity to discuss our faith and how even though we don’t see God or heaven, we know He is real and we keep walking by faith and trusting His word as Truth until we reach our destination.

And right before we crossed over the ridge to see the beauty, it was the roughest patch of all. It was literally like climbing a rocky mountain. Isn’t that what it’s like right before we get a breakthrough in our prayer life or what it must be like to be nearing the end of your life? It’s tough, it’s rocky, you’re tempted to be afraid to climb the rest of the way. You are tired, you are weak, but if you gave up, which some people even did at this point, you would have missed this wonder right around the corner. My husband got there with two of the kids before my daughter and I arrived. I excitedly told her, “They’re already there, waiting for us! Just like when Jesus takes us to heaven one day, we’ll see our family and friends who are in Christ again.” My seven year old exclaimed, “It was worth it!” Have you ever had to wait on God and when you finally got the victory? Wasn’t it was worth it?

Scripture tells us in 2 Chronicles 15:7, “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work (NASV).” Not only does He bless us with the gift of His presence, but He will also reward us in eternity for following His will and His way here on earth.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

I encourage you to get outside with your kids this weekend. Before you do, pray that God would give you spiritual eyes to see and the words to share with your children. Maybe you each will learn more of Who He is through what He has made.

Emily Cook


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