I asked if the mountains had made their way into anyone's testimony and received this writing from Melissa Gilbert, who grew up in the mountains of Kentucky. Thank you for sharing, Melissa!
Perched on a mountaintop, nature’s song whispering through the leaves is where I truly found God. As a child, I had been baptized like a good little girl, I went to Wednesday night youth group meetings, and my bottom was firmly planted in the church pew on Sunday mornings, but I did not truly know God until that warm summer day sitting on a mountaintop in quiet reflection.
My teenage years were typical. I excelled in school, but I was not accepted by the “high society” of the teen social structure until my junior year of high school. That year was an amazing adventure. I had left behind the abusive relationship and bad choices that marred my sophomore year. I knew my family was struggling with worry since my dad’s company had been laying off employees every month. Regardless, at the end of my junior year, I eagerly awaited the start of my senior year anticipating a whirlwind of social activity, preparation for college, and boys!
My whole world was turned upside down when my parents told me that Arch was closing and my dad had to find another job. My dad had worked in the mines since he was a teen himself. He planned to retire with the company, but they were closing their doors shutting out dozens of hard working employees. I asked myself how God could let that happen to my family. We were good Christians. We were good people. We did not deserve for God to take away our home, our lives, and my senior year experience! I was angry. I was hurt. I was scared.
I cried when my parents told me that my dad had found a job and that we were moving to the “big city” of Charlotte, NC. I would be leaving behind everything I had ever known. Little did I know that while I called the mountains home, there was a big world waiting out there that God wanted me to experience. In a few short weeks, I would be packing my things, saying goodbye to my friends, and driving through the night to our new home. As a typical teen, I certainly showed my displeasure and stormed out the front door.
This particular day I decided I needed to get away from it all and headed for the winding road that stretched a few short feet from the Kentucky-Virginia border. I parked my car and settled onto a large rock overlooking the valley below. The view was breathtaking. I sat there for a very long time, the warm summer air moving against my skin, wildlife rustling in the trees. Occasionally a car drove past with the windows down and the radio on, but for the most part, I sat in silence.
I don’t know what I had hoped to find sitting there, but what I found was something amazing, priceless, and precious. I found God. I felt a sense of peace envelope me, a warmth on my skin to melt the chill around my heart. I had spent years looking for God in a pulpit, amidst the pews of the church, or hidden within a pastor’s sermon. But, at that moment I finally realized that God was more than a church or a preacher-man. God was the mountain I sat upon, the birds I heard singing in the skies, and the very air that filled my lungs. I thought for a fleeting moment that leaving the mountains would mean leaving God, but I felt his reassurance that whether I was in the mountains or on the shore of the sea that I was looking to the same sky and the same God would be there to comfort me.
It has been a while since that moment of understanding, but I still recall the scent of the air, the whisper of God’s voice on the wind, and the sense of peace I felt as I drove back down the mountain to tell my mom and dad, “I’m ready.”
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