Sunday evening I returned from camp. One of the Bethel faithful was on his death-bed so before I came home I drove to see him. He lives in the beautiful countryside northeast of the church. On the drive out to his house the road was lined with banks of Tiger Lilies blossoming, bending forward, waving in the breeze—bright orange in the golden hour as the sun angled down the sky. I took a picture that does not do it justice. (The other stunning close-up is a stock photo).
Last summer I lived in a suburb of a major city but I was blessed to travel to Kentucky Mountain Mission to speak. The drive from Michigan to Kentucky follows interstate highway, but an hour and a half from the camp I exit the interstate and travel through some of the quaint small towns and villages of the Bluegrass. Within an hour of the camp I am in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. I drive through the small city of Irvine, the county seat of Estil County which sits in a valley on the Kentucky River. I cross the bridge in George the Red Jeep and make my way along a road that follows Millers Creek and Big Sinking Creek through the valley all the way to camp.
This came to mind when I saw the explosion of Tiger Lilies, because last summer along the Big Sinking Creek thousands of Tiger Lilies brightened the way along the river. There in my Jeep, turning along the roadway following the water running over rocks I gave thanks to my God alound that He would send me on such a mission in such a beautiful place. I did not know that less than a year later I would leave and bland suburbs and live in such a place.
The Year Before
The year before I had spoken to the Kentucky Mountain Mission staff conference. They invited me to speak at camp. I returned in the summer and spoke to the teens. I was so warmly received by the young people. My friend Sam Judd was there and it was a reunion and time of rich fellowship with him. A number of the teens began to follow Christ the week I was there. There were two young ladies who trusted in Christ to be saved my first year who greeted me joyfully when I arrived for my second year of speaking. They reported a year of spiritual growth.
When I left the camp at the end of the week I followed the beautiful way along Big Sinking Creek, but the road over Miller Creek was closed. A detour routed me over a high mountain in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It was a beautiful detour and my heart was full and glad. I prayed grateful prayers driving my faithful red jeep over those mountains.
I had some business in Irvine and then I drove to Richmond to get gas. I always feel melancholy when I have to leave the mountains and join the great stream of traffic on the interstate flowing north. While I was thinking of the sweetness of a week of ministry I checked my phone and found this entry on Facebook posted by one of those girls named Brooklyn:
“So today is my spiritual birthday and I can’t explain how much has changed since then. Before I was saved it was so hard to joy and just be happy. But last year on this day ( which was a Thursday last year ) I was in chapel at Youth Haven Bible Camp listening to Ken Pierpont speak in chapel and it has truly changed my life. Ever since then I have been so happy and continuing to grow in my relationship with God. Being saved is the most important decision any person could make, it is truly life changing. Pastor Pierpont told this story about people who were just so low at life and was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and when they got saved their life got totally flipped around. Pastor Pierpont also made the reference that when you use a paddle boat it’s so hard to get it going and continue to make it move. But when you are a Christian it’s like using a sailboat, all you have to do is put up the sail and God will provide the wind.”
That is what came to my heart on Sunday evening when I saw banks of orange lilies in the ditches bending toward the road along the way. My heart was filled joy at the power of the Story of stories and the great privilege it is to tell it to young hearts.
Summit Township, Michigan