This past weekend my best friend blessed me with a painting of the “Pretty Place” chapel by local South Carolina artist Ashley Galloway.
Although the front of the chapel looks like any other church at the end of a mountain road, the view from inside is unforgettable. Once through the doorway, visitors find the structure is missing its three remaining walls in order to expose the view from its perch on a mountain cliff overlooking the Carolina valley below.
My friend and I had shared many summers at this chapel as volunteers and eventually counselors at nearby YMCA Camp Greenville. The first of those was when I was 16, which was also the first time this Florida girl can remember seeing a mountain. As years went by and the city called, I always dreamt of moving back to the Blue Ridge mountains one day. I have never found a place that could move me quite as much.
Last year, in a search for the kind of 16 year-old inspiration I once felt on that overlook, I drove the snaking path to the top of the mountain and walked down the chapel aisle to the foot of the cross.
But, this time, a different sight captured my attention. The builders of the chapel had long ago laid plaques at the front of the chapel marked with scripture. Verse after verse dotted the edge of the chapel boundary, some of them in dedication to loved ones and some simply proclaiming the goodness of God.
After a long while, I finally looked up from the gray, carved stones and remembered there was a view in front of me, the very one I thought I had driven so long to see. I laughed at the thought I had been at the chapel for so long and hadn’t even noticed it.
And then I felt the still, small voice of the Lord say to me, “Did you ever think there would be a time when my Word would be more beautiful to you than this view?”
When I became a Christian long ago, I had little appreciation for the beauty of the words held in the Bible. As I grow older, I find there is no beauty to compare.
Nothing I have found can inspire, refresh, or comfort more the Word of God. I love the mountains with a passion still, but I delight in remembering that even they were formed with just a word from the Creator who made them. I am sure I will always find inspiration in the beauty of nature, but true rest comes only in the One whose glory its beauty reflects – the LORD himself.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)