The summer after my freshman year in college I went to Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center at Black Mountain, North Carolina to attend a summer conference along with the youth group from my home church. Being from the delta I was always enthusiastic about an opportunity to go to the mountains too. During the week at the center it was announced that one of the summer staff guys Would be leading hiking groups up Rattlesnake Mountain one afternoon and up Royal Gorge one morning to watch the sunrise. I decided that I would do both of the hikes.

The Royal Gorge hike was interesting in that it was done in the predawn darkness so we followed our guide and his flashlight very closely. This was a much smaller group also since not many wanted to get up so early and go see the sunrise. Being young, energetic and enthusiastic, I figured that I wouldn’t have many opportunities to see the sun rise over the Appalachian Mountains. I was right about having few chances to see the sight so I can tell you that it was well worth the effort. How do you describe the visual process of darkness giving way to light? Words are simply inadequate.

After that glorious morning hiking experience I was ready to tackle Rattlesnake Mountain on the next day’s afternoon hike. While this was not climbing the earth’s highest peak it was a fairly strenuous affair. The climb took about an hour and fifteen minutes and it was fairly steep the entire way. After some sweat and making some new friends along the way up we did reach the pinnacle.

What a view! You literally could see for miles and miles. Our guide even pointed out that we could see Billy Graham’s home in the far distance. We hung around for a while to absorb the view and to rest before heading back. The large group of hikers was strung out along the path for a long distance as people arrived at the top at their own pace. As we headed down we were passing others still on their way up and we would tell them of the great sight and that it wasn’t much farther and to hang tough because they were almost there. They appreciated the encouragement and the report that they were about to reach their goal.

In many way we at Friendship Baptist are like that group of hikers. Some are far ahead and others are back a ways but we are heading in the same direction. Let’s be sure to keep encouraging each other, urging each other on and giving good reports to each other as we head along the path. Just remember that the goal is well worth the effort and what a glorious sight it will be.