Footlogs and Phobias

“What’s a footlog?” I asked Dean. I was soon to find out.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—Where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1 NIV

One of the trails my husband and I hiked on our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains was the Kephart Prong Trail. Littered with golden leaves, it wound through the forest two miles up a mountain along a gurgling creek and several waterfalls to a hiking shelter near the summit.

The trail crossed the creek at several places—four to be exact. Bridge number one was a nice one-lane footbridge constructed of wooden planks with a log railing on one side. I crossed it no problem.

The first foot bridge. I didn’t know what was ahead.

 

Then we got to the second bridge, but it wasn’t called a bridge—it was called a “footlog”—a split log about 25 feet long spanning the creek 10 feet below. It, also, had a log railing on one side only, which in places arched away from the bridge.

I’ve always had a fear of heights. When I was nine, my father had to peel me off the second landing of a fire tower because I was screaming and clinging to the steel grate step in terror. I never overcame my acrophobia.

On the first bridge I was fine. I felt secure on the wooden planks. But stepping on a narrow log with moss growing on it was another story.

While my sweet hubby was too busy taking pictures of this historic event to be of any help should I fall into the rushing stream below and knock myself out on a rock, I focused on a point on the log about three feet in front of me, put one hiking boot in front of the other, used my walking stick for balance, and counted my steps aloud. And, of course, ignored Shutterbug behind me.

Baby steps

“Don’t look down!” Dean told me. I didn’t. He took this picture.

Then we came to the second footlog—green with moss, gray with age and missing chunks of wood—scarier than the first one. Using my focus and counting technique and ignoring the fear, I made it across, even though the couple behind us turned back when the woman refused to cross it.

The second footlog. Notice the wood missing and how the railing arches away from the walkway.

 

Halfway across! Notice how well I am concentrating.

The third (and nice) footlog

The third footlog looked newer, like it had just been built. It should have been a piece of cake by then, but I was still scared.

I wasn’t any less afraid crossing the footlogs on the return trip as I had been going up.

But I learned something. No, I didn’t overcome my fear—I walked through it.

We all set out on a trail called life. It goes up and down, winds over rocky and smooth terrain. Along the way we encounter our fears.

But we don’t have to turn back. We don’t have to overcome our fear, either—indeed, sometimes you can’t.

Made it!

But by taking one step at a time, focusing on what’s just ahead, using God’s Word for balance, and having faith in what’s at the end of your journey, you can walk through it.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? From You, Father God, the maker of the mountains and my guide through this hike called life. Amen.

 

Read and reflect on Psalm 121.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God. © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Road to Nowhere

The tunnel on The Road to Nowhere, Swain County, NC

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

Eighty years ago private landowners in Swain County, NC, were forced to give up their property, which had been in their families for generations, when the government created the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Entire communities had to relocate. Access to ancestral burial grounds was lost when the Fontana Dam was built and the route was submerged beneath the waters of a vast manmade lake.

To appease the people, the government promised to build a road through the park that would give them access to the ancient cemeteries. And so construction on Lakeview Drive began—and halted six miles into the park when environmental issues arose. The promised road ended with a tunnel and has remained that way to this day.

Although eventually the environmental issues were resolved and the feds paid the county $52 million in lieu of finishing the road, the locals, feeling betrayed, renamed Lakeview Drive to “The Road to Nowhere.” A sign was erected: “Welcome to The Road to Nowhere. A Broken Promise. 1943 – ?”

We visited The Road to Nowhere several years ago during our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we walked through the dank, dark tunnel. True, the paved road ended when we emerged on the other side, but I wouldn’t call it “nowhere.” Golden trees framed hiking trails that wound through the mountains. True, this wasn’t what was promised, but it is what it is.

Life can be like that. Sometimes the road we’re on doesn’t lead us to where we expect or where we want to go. Sometimes we run into a dead end. Broken promises break our hearts and our trust. We can’t see how we can go on.

But it doesn’t lead to nowhere. All roads lead to somewhere. Just sometimes not where we’d chosen.

The older I get, the more I understand the wisdom of accepting and adapting. And moving on.

I’m not saying it’s easy—giving up those dreams, rebuilding your life after hope has been shattered.

But it can be done—with guts, gumption, grit—and God.

You see, I believe in a God who can transform what’s bad in your life into something good, what’s broken into something usable. A God who can turn your weakness into His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9) and loves you far beyond what you can comprehend (Romans 8:35–39).

He’s always in your corner (Romans 8:31) and wants to bless you exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He’s a faithful Father who showers you with fresh mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and who doesn’t break promises (2 Timothy 2:13).

So, dear child of God, “do not fear. Do not let not your hands grow weak. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives great victory. He will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on the day of a festival” (Zephaniah 3:16–17)

Remember that it’s God who’s in control, no matter what road you find yourself on.

Remind me, Lord, as I walk this uncertain road called life, that every road I walk with You will lead to somewhere wonderful. Amen.

The Road to Nowhere, Swain County, NC

Read and reflect on Lamentations 3:19–26

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.