One of our recent wanderings took us to a local swamp area, called Tate’s Hell. Now a state forest and wildlife area, the 202,437 acre wetland is slowly being reclaimed and restored from years of logging. Tate’s Hell lies between the Ochlocknee and Apalachicola Rivers in the Florida Panhandle and includes floodplain swamp, wet prairie, and flatwoods. Salt marsh areas are evident, and small creeks provide plenty of places to fish from the bank.
On our trek, we discovered the Dwarf Cypress Boardwalk, which extends over a forest of cypress trees. Many of the trees are over 150 years old, and some are estimated to exceed 300 years in age. While an average cypress may grow to over 100 feet, none of these trees is over 15 feet.
After crossing over a grassy area bordered by lily pad covered water on each side, we mounted the boardwalk. The view was amazing, but it wasn’t the view that struck me. As we went higher on the boardwalk, the noises fell away. The air cooled, and a breeze was blowing. On that hot, spring day the change was refreshing.
My thoughts as we enjoyed our lunch at the top of the boardwalk went back to an old gospel song that I don’t hear much anymore – Higher Ground. The words go like this:
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.
I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found;
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.1
This song was an encouragement to me as a youth and a comfort to me as I have aged. It encourages growth in faith and in fellowship with the Lord. It speaks of walking closely with Him, so that we are not sidetracked and shipwrecked by the difficulties in this life. Higher ground changes the perspective, focusing our eyes on the eternal rather than the temporary. Higher ground speaks of stability.
As we study God’s word and trust Him through hard times, we find our faith and our walk with God growing,
and when the storms of this life are raging, when the heat is oppressive, when the journey is hard, higher ground is a good place to be.
II Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Ephesians 4:14 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
II Timothy 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Photos ©Beth Mims