The Spice of Variety

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Colossians 1:16 NLT

Fog and low clouds enveloped our destination, giving it the proper atmosphere for the filming of a horror movie. But that wasn’t our purpose.

My wife and I—along with my middle brother and his girlfriend—set out for a day trip to Balsam Mountain, North Carolina. We planned to visit the primitive campground atop the mountain, hoping it would serve as a good camping spot to take our two oldest grandsons. Then we planned to drive a 14-mile one-way gravel road, a 10-mile two-way gravel road, and a 4-mile asphalt road into Cherokee. Since hot temps had dominated our area, we looked forward to the cool temps the area boasted about—never over 70 degrees.

What greeted us was more eerie, yet more beautiful, than we had imagined. We drove slowly through the fog-encapsulated dew-soaked campground. Only a few people camped at the primitive sites—most bedded down in tents. A sign warned us we had entered bear habitat. All food must be stored in vehicles or campers. We didn’t know whether this secluded area would be a safe spot to take our five- and three-year-old grandsons or not.

After scouting out the campsite, we launched our trek down the gravel road. Rocks and rain-washed gulleys littered the path. We worried whether or not my wife’s small car would make it. Several scrapes across the bottom of the car made us worry even more. But the road said one way. We couldn’t turn back.

Though most wildflowers had bloomed out, many still sparkled their colors in this high-elevation area. Only four other people traveled the road with us. Like us, they were in no hurry. We made frequent stops to take pictures of wildflowers, odd-colored mushrooms, waterfalls, and old bridges. We had entered a rain forest, just not a tropical one.

Four hours later—and 800 pictures later—we exited the gravel road safely and made our way to Cherokee where we enjoyed a picnic lunch.

According to Paul, Christ created everything we can and cannot see. The beauty of this area—along with the uniqueness of the species found there—reminded us of the statement’s truth. We marveled—and were humbled. We couldn’t get enough of the spice of variety.

I’ve learned I can’t box God in. Just when I think I have Him figured out, He’ll do something more beautiful than I can imagine. He’ll take me down roads I never knew existed, and He’ll conceal beauty behind what appears to be an eerie place.

Traditions can’t define or confine Him, nor can my limited understanding. We couldn’t understand how a climate such as the one we had entered could exist only three hours away from our home.

God is sovereign, which comforts me. The beauty of the world He created and controls staggers my imagination, as does the fact that He saves all who call upon Him—regardless of how much variety exists in their lives.

Learn to enjoy the diversity God has placed in the world. Don’t try to box Him in by your limited understandings and traditions. Let Him show you how variety can add spice to your life.

Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (, the Senior Editor for Inspire-a-Fire, and a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. He is an author, English teacher, minister, and freelance editor. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and the author of six books, including his most recent, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes for a Noisy World. He has also been published in numerous publications. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three. He can be contacted at

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  1. I was just up in the North Carolina mountains and continually amazed at God’s creativity and majesty! Thanks for sharing your photos and experience!

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