mountains-to-the-south

I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:1-2, HCSB)

Most of the landscape in Flagstaff, Arizona, is dominated by Mount Eldon, with the majestic San Francisco Peaks visible in the distance. Everywhere you walk or drive, you see them looming large, dotted with pines and scrub oak forcing their way bravely between massive boulders. Mount Eldon is crisscrossed with hiking trails, which my husband and I have frequently trekked. However, we have yet to reach the top of this mountain, and have not even attempted to hike the Peaks.

Walking the Flagstaff Urban Trail behind our neighborhood this weekend, I got a different perspective. Mount Eldon is on the east side of town, and you can see Sunset Crater, a few cinder mining operations, the city and some substantial foothills from its flanks. Mars Hill, the mesa where Lowell Observatory is located, affords another view of the city, plus mountains and hills to the south and west.

Tramping among the whispering pines on a trail up the back side of the mesa, I caught a few glimpses of these distant mountains to the south. Between them and my vantage point, I saw wide expanses of grass-covered prairies. I wondered how many miles separated me from those peaks and how high they rose above the plains around them.

It got me thinking. So often, when I am in the midst of a situation, all I can see is the mountain directly in front of me. It is not until I get God’s perspective that I see past these obstacles and can envision the times of restoration and refreshment that await me on the other side.

In the Bible, mountains were not only an ever-present physical feature in the landscape around God’s people, but they were also an important part of their history and culture. On Mount Moriah, Abraham was challenged to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt sacrifice to God. There the Lord provided a ram as a substitute, once Abraham had proven his faith and obedience. Later on that very mountain, the ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus, was offered on a Roman cross. At Mt. Sinai, Moses met YHWH at the Burning Bush and later received the Ten Commandments. Mount Zion was the place where the children of Israel went up to the temple to meet with God. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus underwent the most formidable test of His faith and obedience before He agreed to suffer and die for our sins.

Mountains were also a natural barrier to Israel’s enemies, which is why God used them to illustrate His protection. In Psalm 125:2, we read:

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever
(NKJV).

In the New Testament, Jesus introduced the idea that mountains could be an obstacle in our lives, but that operating in faith allows us to overcome them. In Matthew 17:20, He told His disciples, “…I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Previously, the prophet Zechariah had encouraged his contemporaries with similar words: “‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground…” (Zech. 4:6-7, NIV).

Whether you perceive the mountains in your life as places to meet God, obstacles in the way of your goals, or tests of your faith, they always seem more overwhelming at the base of them than once you reach the top. God looks down from above the mountains and can see what lies on the other side. Ask Him to give you a different perspective on your situation—a God’s eye view of what’s ahead and behind you—so that you can meet the demands of that mountain head-on, with a full measure of faith and confidence to get you over, through, around or in command of that obstacle. Like a child on the shoulders of his father, or a mountain climber surveying the valley below, seeing things from that vantage point can make a world of difference!

father-carries-his-son

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