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Friday, January 11, 2008

Cades Cove
Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Click on photo to enlarge to desktop size.

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"Deeded to God Almighty"

"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).

During our visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park we visited a valley with stunning mountain views known as Cades Cove. When I first heard about this area I was curious as to why an inland area would be called a cove since I have always associated a cove with water. However in Smoky Mountain vernacular a cove is "a relatively flat valley between mountains or ridges."

Beginning in the early 1800's Cades Cove was settled and its population peaked with about 700 inhabitants in 1900. When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established the lands were bought by the Park Service. Now all that remains as evidence of the settlement are about 70 historic buildings (cabins, churches, barns) that were left for tourists to visit. The buildings are stripped of all furnishings allowing visitors to go inside the structures as well.  We spent several hours driving through the area, visiting the buildings, and enjoying the outstanding views. 

When we first drove into Cades Cove I stopped for information and visited with a park ranger for awhile. (Brooksyne and Ester would say "a very long while!") We sure had an interesting conversation as he told me he was actually related to many of the Cove residents and personally knew several who lived there before being bought out by the park service in the 1930's. 

He told me an interesting story about his great grandfather, John W. Oliver, who at one time owned 5,000 acres and resisted the government's efforts to buy his land.  He was determined to stay so he stalled the eviction by deeding all his property to God Almighty.  This caused quite a legal dilemma in the imminent domain process!  The case eventually went to the Tennessee Supreme Court three times before he finally lost and with great reluctance moved his household goods and farm machinery from the Cove on a bleak December day in 1937.

That phrase "deeded to God Almighty" caught my attention. It certainly was an interesting strategy in stalling the eviction. The ranger and I didn't discuss his great grandpa's religious convictions so I don't know how pure his motives were in making such a bold assertion.  But I do know that in a spiritual sense he was absolutely correct since ultimately all land is deeded to God Almighty! 

Consider the stirring acclamation of David in our daily verse.  The shepherd, who had spent so much time in natural settings, perhaps with scenes similar to Cades Cove in today's photo, proclaimed "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."

Today, I encourage you, wherever you live, to observe the beautiful creation of God. Take some extra time, using all five of your God-given senses,
to observe the often overlooked blessings of God's creation.  If you do, it will result in your giving praise to the God who created, blesses and rules the entire universe.  Remember all the earth and universe is indeed ultimately deeded to God Almighty! 

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: The heavens declare Your glory, Father, and all the earth reflects Your praise!  You stretch out the skies like a tent and You built Your dwelling above the clouds.  You built the earth on its foundations with mountains that rise and valleys that descend.  You set borders for the seas that they cannot cross and You make flowing springs pour into the ravines.  You water the wild animals and provide nests for the wild birds who sing among the tree branches.  The earth overflows with things You have made both for our pleasure and for our sustenance.  All that we have belongs to You, Father, who gives all good things to Your creation.  May we, Your children, be faithful stewards and grateful recipients as we regularly observe Your creative bounty.  Amen.

(See Psalm 104 for further inspiration regarding God's creation)

Some more photos of our visit to Cades Cove
in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Cades Cove cabin
John Oliver log cabin (This was built in the early 1820's by the great grandfather of the John W. Oliver mentioned in today's message.)

Cades Cove trail
Brooksyne & Ester walking on the cabin trail. We took a lot of walks.

Cades Cove deer
Deer and wild turkeys are abundant in the Cove, scarcely phased by human presence.

Personal Note:  We enjoyed our trip and returned to Pennsylvania yesterday. We had hoped to find a wireless internet connection along the road yesterday to send out a message but instead had a very long service call on our van and ending up getting back about 10:00 last night. We enjoyed our visit with my sister Genelle and her husband Ceasar as well as our longtime friends Mike and Kathy Matangelo and their daughter Tina. We sure were blessed by the several days we had in the Great Smokies.  But it's always great to be home!

Today's Suggested Music

"All The Earth Will Sing Your Praise"  (Audio)

"As The Deer"  (Audio)

"Creation Calls"  (Audio)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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